Understanding Your Stage of Endometrial Cancer

Stage is the word doctors use to describe where the tumor is and how far the cancer has spread. Doctors use stages to describe what was found in and around the uterus during surgery. So the stage of endometrial cancer may not be decided until after your uterus is removed.

The most commonly used system to stage endometrial cancer is called FIGO staging. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics developed this system. The FIGO system uses 4 numbers. Each is described here.

Stage I. The cancer is only in the body of the uterus. The body is called the corpus.

  • Stage IA. The cancer is only in the endometrium, which is the uterine lining.

  • Stage IB. The cancer has spread less than halfway through the myometrium, which is the muscular wall of the uterus.

  • Stage IC: The cancer is no longer limited to the endometrium. It has spread more than halfway through the myometrium but has not spread beyond the body of the uterus.

Stage II. The cancer has spread from the uterus to the cervix. The cervix is the lower end of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

  • Stage IIA. The cancer is in the body of the uterus and the endocervical glands.

  • Stage IIB. The cancer is in the body of the uterus and the cervical stroma, which is the wall of the uterus.

Stage III. The cancer has spread from the uterus. But it is still only in the pelvic area.

  • Stage IIIA. The cancer has spread to the outer lining (serosa) of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Or there are cancer cells in the fluid that surrounds the uterus in the pelvic area. It has not spread to the lymph nodes.

  • Stage IIIB. The cancer has spread to the vagina. It has not spread to the lymph nodes.

  • Stage IIIC. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes near the uterus. 

Stage IV. The cancer has spread beyond the pelvic area.

  • Stage IVA. The cancer has spread to the mucosa or inner lining of the rectum or bladder.

  • Stage IVB. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the groin area, or it has spread to other organs, such as the lungs or bones. Or it has spread to both places.

Cancer that comes back after it has been treated is said to have recurred.

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