The overall outlook for uterine cancer is positive for cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body, especially when a person receives an early diagnosis.
It is challenging to determine a specific person’s outlook for uterine cancer because everyone’s cancer is unique, and many factors can affect the course of the disease, such as:
- cancer type and location
- stage of cancer, including the size of the tumor and how far it has spread
- a person’s overall health status
- the person’s age
- a person’s response to treatment
Doctors estimate outlook on the basis of statistics that researchers have gathered over
Ultimately, outlook is an educated guess. Doctors cannot predict what will happen to any one person.
This article examines uterine cancer’s outlook, including life expectancy, survival rates, and whether the cancer is treatable.
In the United States, there are no combined statistics for all types of uterine cancer life expectancy by stage. The outlook for uterine cancer depends on the type. There are two main types of uterine cancer, endometrial and uterine sarcoma.
The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which the National Cancer Institute maintains, tracks survival rates for uterine cancer in the U.S.
It groups survival rates into the
- Localized: There are no signs that cancer has spread from the uterus.
- Regional: Cancer has spread from the uterus, entering nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: Cancer has spread to other body areas, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.
Relative survival rates indicate the percentage of people with specific cancer that survive for a certain period after diagnosis compared to people without that type of cancer.
For example, if a stage of cancer has an 81% 5-year relative survival rate, it means that people with that cancer are around 81% as likely as people without it to be alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Below are the 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year relative survival rates for uterine cancer by
1-year relative survival rates
- Localized: 99.0%
- Regional: 90.6%
- Distant: 50.9%
- All stages combined: 91.9%
5-year relative survival rates
- Localized: 94.9%
- Distant: 17.8%
- All stages combined: 81.1%
10-year relative survival rates
- Distant: 13.4%
- All stages combined: 77.7%
1-year, 5-year, and 10-year survival does not mean people with uterine cancer will live for 1, 5, or 10 years. These periods are simply common time points to measure survival. Some people may live much longer.
It is also important to note that many factors can affect a person’s outlook. Additionally, treatments improve over time, which may lead to a better outlook.
These figures also do not take into account the type of uterine cancer. Some types of uterine cancer are more aggressive than others.
For example, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the 5-year all-stages relative survival rate for the most common uterine cancer, known as endometrial cancer, is
Survival statistics typically come from studies comparing different treatments rather than comparing treatment with no treatment. A doctor may have difficulty offering an accurate outlook if a person decides to refuse treatment.
Symptoms of uterine cancer may include:
- vaginal discharge or bleeding not associated with periods
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
- pain during sexual intercourse
- pain during urination
- pelvic pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained and unintentional weight loss
- changes in bowel and bladder habits
- pain and weakness in the lower abdomen, legs, or back
Most uterine cancers grow slowly, particularly endometrial cancers.
Type 1 cancers are not particularly aggressive and do not spread quickly. There is usually a link between these cancers and excess estrogen in the body.
Type 2 endometrial cancers are more likely to grow and spread quickly to other tissues. Too much estrogen does not seem to cause these cancers.
Uterine cancer is usually treatable when doctors find it early. Early treatment can help
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can feel overwhelming. However, everyone’s experience with cancer is different. The following strategies may help people living with uterine cancer cope with the diagnosis:
- Go to all follow-up appointments: It is crucial for people to attend all follow-up care so doctors can monitor their progress.
- Ask a doctor for a survivorship care plan: This plan may include a schedule for follow-up tests, a list of long-term treatment side effects, and suggestions of what a person can do to improve their health, which may lower the chances of cancer returning.
- Get regular physical activity: Some research suggests that being more physically active after diagnosis
may helppeople with uterine cancer live longer.
- Adopt healthy behaviors: Not smoking and eating well may positively affect people’s overall health, helping them to cope with the disease and treatment.
- Get emotional support: Living with cancer can increase feelings of depression or anxiety. Support from others, such as friends and family, support groups, or professional counselors, may benefit a person’s well-being.
The Cancer Survivors Network, supported by the ACS, is a community for people with cancer, caregivers, and family to connect with others going through similar experiences.
It is difficult for doctors to provide an exact outlook because many factors can alter this, such as the type of cancer the person has and their response to treatment.
However, 5-year survival rates may help provide an idea of what to expect in terms of disease outlook.
The 5-year relative survival rate for people with any stage of uterine cancer is 81.1%.
Most uterine cancers are slow-growing and do not spread quickly. Doctors can successfully treat uterine cancer when they diagnose it early.
People experiencing vaginal bleeding and discharge that is not usual for them should speak with a doctor.