Symptoms of uterine cancer after menopause mainly involve atypical vaginal bleeding or non-bloody vaginal discharge. A person may also experience pelvic pain, unintentional weight loss, and the feeling of a mass in the pelvis in later stages.

Risk factors for uterine cancer include obesity, certain genetic changes, taking the breast cancer medication tamoxifen (Soltamox), and having had fewer than five menstrual cycles in a year before starting menopause.

This article discusses the symptoms of uterine cancer after menopause, as well as risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, screening, prevalence, and outlook.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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The main symptom of uterine cancer is bleeding that is either atypical or happens at an atypical time. For instance, it could be heavier than usual or occur either between menstrual cycles or after menopause. Once the menstrual cycles stop after menopause, bleeding is never typical.

A 2020 review that investigated symptoms of uterine cancer in all females found that postmenopausal bleeding was the symptom that healthcare professionals investigated most frequently.

The most common type of uterine cancer is endometrial cancer, which affects the lining of the uterus. Approximately 90% of people with endometrial cancer experience atypical bleeding, but non-bleeding discharge may also manifest.

Other endometrial cancer symptoms that appear in later stages include:

  • pain in the pelvis
  • losing weight without trying
  • feeling a mass in the pelvis

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Some people develop uterine cancer even if they do not have a higher risk. Not everyone with risk factors will develop uterine cancer.

However, risk factors for uterine cancer include:

  • taking the female hormone estrogen without the female hormone progesterone for hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • being older than age 50 years
  • having had difficulty getting pregnant or having fewer than five menstrual cycles within a year before the start of menopause
  • having obesity
  • taking tamoxifen (Soltamox)
  • having a genetic change — or mutation — that raises the risk
  • having close family members who have had ovarian, colon, or uterine cancer

While there is no known means of prevention, the following may reduce a person’s risk of uterine cancer:

Menopause resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on menopause.

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No screening tests exist to detect uterine cancer in people who do not have symptoms or signs.

The Pap test is a screening for cervical rather than uterine cancer. The cervix is the passage that joins the upper part of the vagina to the lower part of the uterus.

If someone has symptoms, diagnostic tools include a transvaginal ultrasound or an endometrial biopsy. A transvaginal ultrasound is imaging that shows atypical growths in the pelvis.

An endometrial biopsy involves the removal of a piece of endometrial tissue for examination under a microscope. When the biopsy results are uncertain, a doctor may order further tests.

Learn more about diagnosing uterine cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), uterine cancer accounts for 3.4% of all new cancer cases. The NCI estimated that 66,200 people would receive a diagnosis in 2023.

Most cases of uterine cancer occur in females who have undergone or are going through menopause. Additionally, the average age of females with endometrial cancer is 60 years old, and it is uncommon prior to age 45 years.

Based on data from 2013–2019, the 5-year relative survival rate for all uterine cancer is 81%.

If doctors catch endometrial cancer early, a person has a 95% chance of surviving at least 5 years. However, once the cancer has spread outside the uterus, the 5-year survival rate ranges from 16–45%.

Early detection and treatment are key to a more positive outlook. The further the cancer spreads, the lower the survival rates. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the survival rate for endometrial cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body is 18%.

A note on survival rates

Survival rates are based on the percentage of people who live for a certain period of time after they receive a diagnosis or treatment for a condition. The rate is often given as a 5-year survival rate.

This means that a certain percentage of people lived for at least 5 years after the diagnosis or treatment of their condition.

These survival rates are often referred to as relative survival rates. Actual survival rates depend on the type of cancer, how far it has spread, and an individual’s overall health and response to treatment. Individuals should discuss their personal outlook with their healthcare professional.

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Symptoms of uterine cancer after menopause involve atypical vaginal bleeding or discharge. Manifestations may also include pelvic pain, unintentional weight loss, and the feeling of a mass in the pelvis. However, these occur more frequently in the later stages.

Some risk factors — such as age and genetics — are impossible to change. Changeable risk factors include obesity and taking estrogen HRT without progesterone. Prevention measures include maintaining a moderate weight and taking progesterone if taking estrogen.

No screening is available for uterine cancer. If an individual has symptoms, a healthcare professional may use a biopsy and ultrasound to make a diagnosis. If a biopsy does not provide clear results, further tests may be necessary.

Most cases of uterine cancer manifest during or after menopause.

If a person is experiencing abnormal bleeding or discharge, they should speak with a healthcare professional.

Cancer resources

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for cancer, visit our dedicated hub.

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