Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Staging of endometrial cancer

Staging is the process of finding out how widespread the cancer is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. The stage of the cancer is an important factor in making treatment choices.

The systems used to stage endometrial cancer are the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) system and the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging system. They are very much alike. They are both surgical staging systems, which means they are based on looking at the tissue removed during an operation.

A doctor may order tests before surgery (like ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans) to look for signs that a cancer has spread. Although it’s not as good as knowing the surgical stage, this information can be helpful in planning surgery and other treatments. If these tests show that the cancer may have spread outside the uterus, you may be referred to a gynecologic oncologist (if you are not already seeing one).

Stages are labeled using the number 0 and Roman numerals I through IV (1-4). Some of these stages are further divided (for example, IIIA, IIIB). As a rule, the lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, such as stage IV (4), means a more advanced cancer.

After looking at your test results, the doctor will tell you the stage of your cancer. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain your stage in a way you understand. This will help you both decide on the best treatment for you.

Last Medical Review: 02/09/2015
Last Revised: 02/04/2016