Uterine Cancer

What is uterine cancer?

Uterine cancer refers to cancer that develops within the uterus. The uterus is part of the female reproductive system and is made up of two layers: the outer layer of muscle tissue known as the myometrium, and the inner layer or lining which is called the endometrium.

The two main types of uterine cancer include:

  • Endometrial cancer – cancer that develops in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). This is the most common type of uterine cancer
  • Uterine sarcoma – cancer that develops in the muscle tissue (myometrium). This accounts for 2-4% of all uterine cancer diagnoses

Uterine cancer is the tenth most common cancer in Singapore, affecting 775 women each year.

Stages of uterine cancer

Uterine cancer can be described in stages depending on how early or advanced the cancer is.

Uterine cancer is typically staged using the FIGO (International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics) system, which helps doctors understand what your cancer looks like.

There are four stages of uterine cancer ranging from Stage I to Stage IV, which gives an indication of how little (Stage I) to how much (Stage IV) the cancer has progressed.

Within each stage (I-IV) there are sub-stages, listed from A through to D which describe the extent of the tumour.

Signs and symptoms of uterine cancer

Uterine cancer can be difficult to detect as there are often no symptoms during the early stages. However, as the disease progresses symptoms may include:

Difficulty urinating

Pelvic pain

Unexplained weight loss

Foul smelling and/or watery discharge

Abnormal vaginal bleeding

(such as after menopause or between menstrual cycles)


during sexual intercourse

Treatment for uterine cancer

Frequently asked questions

What are the risk factors for uterine cancer?

While the exact causes of uterine cancer are unknown, factors known to increase the risk of developing uterine cancer include:

  • Being post-menopausal
  • Beginning menopause at a later age or starting your menstrual cycle before the age of 12
  • Not having children
  • High blood pressure or diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Having a family history of ovarian, uterine or bowel cancer
  • Hereditary conditions such as Cowden syndrome or Lynch syndrome
  • Pre-existing medical conditions such as ovarian tumours, polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometrial hyperplasia
  • Having hormone replacement therapy, particularly oestrogen only, or fertility treatment
  • Receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer (Tamoxifen)
How can uterine cancer be prevented?

To prevent uterine cancer, you should consider:

  • Using the contraceptive pill and intrauterine device (IUD) as contraceptive options, which lower the risk of uterine cancer
  • Speaking to your doctor about the risks of hormone replacement therapy
  • Having a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Receiving treatment for endometrial conditions
  • Undergoing preventive surgery for inherited conditions if recommended by your doctor
How is uterine cancer diagnosed?

There are many different tests that are used to diagnose uterine cancer, alongside a physical examination. This may include urine and blood tests, transvaginal ultrasound, endometrial biopsy or hysteroscopy and biopsy. Further tests may include x-ray and/or CT, MRI and PET scans to detect if the cancer has spread.


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