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Endometrial Carcinoma Clinical Presentation

  • Author: William T Creasman, MD; Chief Editor: Warner K Huh, MD  more...
 
Updated: Dec 04, 2015
 

History

Postmenopausal period

Because approximately 75% of women with endometrial cancer are postmenopausal, the most common symptom is postmenopausal bleeding.

Investigate all bleeding during menopause unless the patient is on cyclic replacement therapy with normally anticipated withdrawal bleeding. The duration or amount (staining vs gross) of bleeding does not make any difference.

The fact that only approximately 20% of postmenopausal bleeding is due to cancer is appreciated, but obviously, the diagnosis must be eliminated in these patients.

Perimenopausal/premenopausal period

Because 25% of endometrial cancers are in patients who are perimenopausal or premenopausal, symptoms suggestive of cancer may be more subtle. The idea that any type of bleeding during the perimenopausal period is probably due to menopause is a common misconception. This irregular bleeding is often ignored by the patient and even health care providers. Remember that the normal bleeding pattern during this time should become lighter and lighter and further and further apart. Heavy frequent menstrual periods or intermenstrual bleeding must be evaluated.

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Physical Examination

Because bleeding usually occurs from the endometrium, pelvic examination findings may be entirely normal, with no gross evidence of disease on the cervix and with a normal-sized uterus. Note the following:

  • Bleeding leads to an evaluation of the endometrium. In the vast majority of cases, no gross evidence of disease is noted.
  • The uterus may be of normal size upon pelvic examination.
  • Cancer can be present upon cervical evaluation and, less frequently, in the upper vagina or periurethrally. In current practice, occult cervical involvement is very unusual, as is clinically evident metastasis, such as in the vagina.
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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

William T Creasman, MD J Marion Sims Distinguished University Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

William T Creasman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: North Carolina Medical Society, Society of Gynecologic Oncology, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, American Medical Association, South Carolina Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Jori S Carter, MD, MS Assistant Professor, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

Jori S Carter, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society of Gynecologic Oncology, Association of Women Surgeons, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Warner K Huh, MD Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Senior Scientist, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama School of Medicine

Warner K Huh, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Surgeons, Massachusetts Medical Society, Society of Gynecologic Oncology, American Society of Clinical Oncology

Disclosure: I have received consulting fees for: Merck; THEVAX.

Additional Contributors

John J Kavanagh, Jr, MD Chief, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Gynecological and Medical Therapeutics, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Medical School at Houston

John J Kavanagh, Jr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society of Gynecologic Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, American Association for the History of Medicine, American College of Physicians, American Federation for Medical Research, American Medical Association, Southern Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Medscape Drugs & Diseases thanks Tarek Bardawil, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, for assistance with the video contribution to this article.

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Diagnostic hysteroscopy for endometrial cancer. Video courtesy of Tarek Bardawil, MD.
 
 
 
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