Can I Get Checked for Endometrial Cancer Before I Have Symptoms?

surviving uterine cancer
Finding endometrial cancer early is key to survival.

There are no screening tests for endometrial cancer that are recommended for women who don’t have symptoms or a hereditary risk for the cancer. Having a yearly pelvic exam for and any other exams and tests suggested by your doctor are good ways to check your overall reproductive health. However, they are not as helpful at finding endometrial cancer early.

Who May Need Screening

Your doctor may suggest screening for endometrial cancer in these cases.

  • Your risk for endometrial cancer is high because you are likely to carry a gene mutation (the mutation is known to be present in your family), or your family has a tendency to get colon cancer, but genetic testing has not been done.

  • You are known to carry the gene mutations for hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).

  • You are at high risk and going through menopause.

  • You have changes in your uterus that might turn into cancer.

Women at increased risk should be informed of their risk and advised to see their doctor whenever there is any abnormal vaginal bleeding. If you are at high risk for endometrial cancer, your doctor may talk to you about an endometrial biopsy . He or she may advise you to have a biopsy periodically after menopause as well. If you are at higher risk for HNPCC, you should be offered testing for endometrial cancer each year with an endometrial biopsy starting at age 35, according to the American Cancer Society.

What Screening Involves

If your doctor thinks you are at risk, he or she can check for endometrial cancer in these 2 ways.

  • Endometrial sampling. Your doctor takes a small sample of cells from the lining of your uterus. This sample is also called a biopsy. To do this, your doctor inserts a thin flexible tube through your vagina and into your uterus. Your doctor then removes some cells through this tube. Your doctor looks at the cells under a microscope to check for cancer. This test may cause you discomfort, such as cramps and bleeding. The procedure has a risk for possible infection. In rare cases, the wall of your uterus could be punctured.

  • Transvaginal ultrasound. Your doctor inserts a probe through your vagina and into your uterus. The probe sends out sound waves that echo off the cells of your uterus. A computer translates these sound waves into an image on a nearby screen. In this way, your doctor can see an image of the inside of your uterus.

Neither of these tests is completely accurate. It’s possible that your doctor may not be able to detect cancer--even when it is present. On the other hand, it is also possible that it may look like you have cancer when you don’t, called a false-positive result. If needed, your doctor can confirm if you have cancer by doing more tests.

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