If you have symptoms that suggest uterine cancer, your doctor will try to find out what’s causing the problems.
You may have a physical exam and blood tests. Also, you may have one or more of the following tests:
- Pelvic exam: Your doctor can check your uterus, vagina, and nearby tissues for any lumps or changes in shape or size.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound device uses sound waves that can’t be heard by humans. The sound waves make a pattern of echoes as they bounce off organs inside the pelvis. The echoes create a picture of your uterus and nearby tissues. The picture can show a uterine tumor. For a better view of the uterus, the device may be inserted into the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound).
- Biopsy: The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is a biopsy. A thin tube is inserted through the vagina into your uterus. Your doctor uses gentle scraping and suction to remove samples of tissue. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. In most cases, a biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether cancer is present.
You may want to ask the doctor these questions before having a biopsy:
- Why do I need a biopsy?
- How long will it take? Will I be awake? Will it hurt?
- What is the chance of infection or bleeding after the biopsy? Are there any other risks?
- How soon will I know the results? How do I get a copy of the pathology report?
- If I do have cancer, who will talk with me about treatment? When?
If cancer is found, the pathologist studies tissue samples from the uterus under a microscope to learn the grade of the tumor. The grade tells how much the tumor tissue differs from normal uterine tissue. It may suggest how fast the tumor is likely to grow.
Tumors with higher grades tend to grow faster than those with lower grades. Tumors with higher grades are also more likely to spread. Doctors use tumor grade along with other factors to suggest treatment options.