Symptoms of endometrial cancer most often appear during menopause and depend on the severity of the disease (how far it has spread).
However, signs frequently appear before the cancer reaches advanced stages. These symptoms are not unique, and a diagnosis is made only after further testing.
Symptoms of Endometrial Cancer
The most common symptom of endometrial cancer is bleeding from the vagina. This can occur in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. The former may be more difficult to detect, but it often manifests as particularly heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting, irregular menstruation, or frequent heavy bleeding between menstrual periods.
In postmenopausal women, approximately one-third of bleeding episodes are caused by endometrial cancer. Early bleeding may be watery, but it can thicken as the cancer progresses. Besides bleeding, sometimes the cancer causes white or clear vaginal discharges in postmenopausal women.
Other Signs & Symptoms
Less frequent symptoms of endometrial cancer are weight loss and pain. Pain may occur after or during intercourse or when the area is touched in another way (e.g., with an intrauterine device). It can also occur in the lower abdomen, pelvis (along with cramping), back, or legs. As the disease progresses, urination can become painful or difficult.
Advanced disease may cause pain and other symptoms in organs outside the pelvic region. For example, cancer cells that have invaded the liver may cause the organ to enlarge. Growing tumors often cause pain by applying pressure to adjacent organs.
Persistent or heavy bleeding can cause anemia. Anemia is characterized by a lack of oxygen delivery to the bodyís tissues and organs. Its most common symptom is fatigue.
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, or Lynch syndrome, is an inherited predisposition to colorectal cancer and many associated cancers. Women with this syndrome have a 30%-50% increased risk of developing endometrial cancer.