Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer

Show Article Table of Contents

Endometrial cancer involves the endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, and is by far the most frequently diagnosed type of uterine cancer. The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, which includes bleeding after menopause, changes in bleeding before menopause, and bleeding in between periods. Other symptoms can include pain during sex, pelvic pain, abnormal discharge, and fatigue.

endometrial cancer symptoms
Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell 

Frequent Symptoms

In general terms, the most common symptom of endometrial cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Around 90 percent of women have this symptom, according to the American Cancer Society.

Before Menopause

If you haven't yet gone through menopause, abnormal vaginal bleeding includes:

  • Periods that are heavy and prolonged (lasting longer than seven days)
  • Heavy spotting that occurs between periods
  • Periods that occur every 21 days or sooner
  • Vaginal bleeding that occurs before and/or after sex

After Menopause

Any vaginal bleeding or spotting that starts a year or more after you've gone through menopause is considered abnormal and requires an evaluation by your doctor. Uterine cancer is not the only cause of vaginal bleeding after menopause. Fibroids, thyroid disorders, polyps, and hormone replacement therapy can also cause vaginal bleeding in post-menopausal women.

Other symptoms of endometrial cancer that can occur before or after menopause include:

  • A watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Symptoms that may occur in the later stages of cancer include:

  • Pelvic pain or cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Being able to feel a mass or tumor in your pelvis
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Feeling full quickly

Complications

The only potential complication of endometrial cancer symptoms is anemia, a low red blood cell count. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, cold hands and/or feet, irregular heartbeat, headaches, shortness of breath, pale or yellow-tinged skin, chest pain, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded. This kind of anemia is caused by an iron deficiency in your body as a result of blood loss. Thankfully, it's easily reversed through a diet that's rich in vitamins and/or taking iron supplements, as well as by treating your endometrial cancer, which will stop the bleeding altogether. Speak with your oncologist before beginning any supplements.

While you're being tested for endometrial cancer, there is the risk of your uterus being perforated (torn) during the endometrial biopsy or dilation and curettage (D&C), but the chances of this are slim. The risk is slightly higher for women who have been through menopause or who have been pregnant recently.

When to See a Doctor

You should see your doctor if you have any of the above-listed symptoms of endometrial cancer. They may turn out to indicate something else, but if you do have cancer, the earlier it's detected, the better your outcome will be.

Keep in mind that if you have any abnormal discharge at any stage of life, even if it's not bloody, you may still have endometrial cancer and should see your doctor. Discharge that isn't bloody is associated with around 10 percent of cases of endometrial cancer.

If you're experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding (soaking through one sanitary pad an hour), you should go to the emergency room.

What Increases Your Risk of Endometrial Cancer?
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources