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Uterine Cancer: Diagnosis and Staging

If a woman has symptoms that suggest uterine cancer, a doctor may conduct blood and urine tests in addition to checking signs of her general health. The doctor may also conduct a variety of other exams and tests in order to better understand the patient's problem. Some of these exams include:

A Pelvic Exam examines a woman's vagina, uterus, bladder, and rectum. A doctor feels for lumps and abnormal changes in shape or size in these organs.

During a Pap Test, a doctor swabs the cervix and upper vagina to collect cells that are examined in a laboratory to determine if any of the cells are abnormal. Though a pap test can detect cancer of the cervix, because it does not include cells of the uterus, a biopsy must be used to detect cervical cancer.

A Transvaginal Ultrasound uses an instrument that is inserted into the vagina and emits sound waves. A pattern of echoes that results from the sound waves helps doctors to create pictures of the endometrium. This can help doctors to decide further courses of action.

A Biopsy allows a doctor to remove a sample of tissue from the uterine lining so that it can be examined and tested for abnormal cells in a laboratory. A pathologist examines this tissue to check for cancer cells.

There are four stages of Uterine Cancer ranging from stage one where the cancer is only in the uterus and has not spread to the cervix, to stage four where the cancer has spread from the uterus to the bladder and rectum, or has spread to other body parts beyond the pelvis.