The womb (also known as the uterus) is a pear-shaped organ where a baby is carried during pregnancy. Endometrial cancer (which might also be called womb or uterine cancer) is cancer that starts in the lining of the womb, which is called the ‘endometrium’. 
Endometrial cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, with over 380,000 women being diagnosed in 2018.  It mainly affects women who have gone through the menopause and is most commonly diagnosed in women over the age of 40.
The reason that some women get endometrial cancer is not completely clear. However, there are some factors that are known to increase the likelihood of a woman developing this disease, called ‘risk factors’. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will definitely get the disease. Some risk factors for endometrial cancer include: [3, 4]
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is unusual bleeding from the vagina. Any type of vaginal bleeding is unusual in women who have been through the menopause, but pre-menopausal women may experience heavier periods or bleeding between periods. Other less common symptoms to watch out for include: 
If your doctor thinks you might have endometrial cancer, they will do a physical examination and then send you for some further tests that might include: 
Once your diagnosis is confirmed, you may be sent for scans (like MRI or CT, which give a detailed picture of the inside of the body) or a chest x-ray to help doctors to understand the type, stage and grade of your ovarian cancer (more information on these can be found below). 
There are many different types of endometrial cancer but the most common is adenocarcinoma (95 out of 100 endometrial cancers are this type). Adenocarcinoma means that the cancer started in the glands of the lining of the womb. Endometrial cancer can look very different from one patient to another when studied through a microscope, so doctors sometimes divide endometrial cancers into 2 types: 
The stage of your endometrial cancer describes where the cancer is and how far it has spread into nearby tissues and/or around the body. 
The grade of your endometrial cancer describes how fast it is likely to grow and spread around the body. 
The most common treatments for endometrial cancer are surgery (to remove as much of the cancer as possible), radiotherapy and chemotherapy (to kill cancer cells). Treatment will vary based on the type, stage and grade of your endometrial cancer, and will depend on what is approved in your country. 
During your surgery, the surgeons will try to remove as much of the cancer as they can to give you the best possible outcome and reduce the likelihood that your cancer will come back after treatment. This may involve removing some of the reproductive organs, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb and cervix. If your cancer has spread, they will also assess the possibility of removing as much cancer from those organs as possible. 
You may be given radiotherapy after your surgery to try to kill any remaining cancer cells that were unable to be removed during surgery. You may be given external radiotherapy (given from outside the body) or internal radiotherapy (given from inside the body). 
Chemotherapies are drugs that aim to stop cancer cells from growing. Sometimes chemotherapy is given with radiotherapy to help the radiotherapy work better. This is called chemoradiotherapy. Chemotherapy may be given as a mixture of drugs as this sometimes works better than one type of chemotherapy on its own. Chemotherapy is given as an infusion into your vein over a few hours. You will need to go to your hospital or clinic regularly to be given chemotherapy treatment, and the exact timing of your visits will be decided by your doctor. 
Depending on the type of your endometrial cancer, your doctor may recommend for you to have hormone therapy. These therapies help to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells by cutting off or lowering the levels of certain hormones in the body. 
There are new treatments being developed for endometrial cancer. Clinical trials investigate these new drugs and compare them with the current therapies already available. If you would like to know more about clinical trials, or are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, speak to your doctor or visit the clinical trials page on the Roche ForPatients platform (https://forpatients.roche.com/en/faq/what-is-a-clinical-trial.html).
The outlook for endometrial cancer depends on the type, stage and grade of the cancer when it is diagnosed. [15, 16] Please talk to your doctor about the outlook for your endometrial cancer.