An ultrasound is one of several tests that can help diagnose uterine cancer. The results of an ultrasound aren’t enough to confirm cancer, but they can lead to a biopsy. A biopsy can confirm cancer.

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An ultrasound is an imaging test that, among other things, helps spot growths, such as tumors. It’s one of several tests you’ll likely have if a doctor suspects you have uterine cancer.

An ultrasound won’t confirm a diagnosis of uterine cancer on its own, but it can identify abnormal growths or thickening of your endometrial walls. If either of these things is seen on an ultrasound, you’ll have a biopsy to rule out or confirm a uterine cancer diagnosis.

Learn more about uterine cancer.

An ultrasound can be used to diagnose a variety of health conditions, including uterine cancer. Ultrasounds can be taken of different parts of your body.

To diagnose uterine cancer, abdominal, pelvic, or transvaginal ultrasounds are all sometimes used, but a transvaginal ultrasound is the most common.

This type of ultrasound allows doctors to get a close look at the uterus to see if there’s any thickening of the endometrial walls or to spot masses growing in the uterus, such as tumors and polyps. These abnormal findings could indicate uterine cancer.

An ultrasound is one of several tests you’ll have to diagnose cancer. The results are important and can help lead to a diagnosis, but they can’t give final confirmation. You’ll still need additional testing, such as a biopsy.

This is because, although an ultrasound can spot growths and masses, it can’t tell if those findings are cancerous. A sample needs to be removed during a biopsy so that the cells can be examined in a lab. A close lab examination of the biopsied cells is the only way to confirm a uterine cancer diagnosis.

A transvaginal ultrasound is typically an outpatient procedure. You might have an abdominal ultrasound along with your transvaginal ultrasound. Generally, the test will take between 15 minutes and 1 hour.

You’ll lie on an exam table with your knees bent. Your feet might be placed in stirrups. If you’re having an abdominal ultrasound, it will typically be done first. This ultrasound is done by placing a gel over your stomach. An ultrasound transducer will then be passed over your stomach several times to gather images of organs and tissues.

A transvaginal ultrasound will use a different transducer probe that’s designed to go inside your body. When it’s time for the ultrasound to begin, the transducer probe will have a sterile cover and a lubricating gel placed over it. The technician will then insert it gently into your vagina. The transducer probe will then create images of your pelvic organs.

A transvaginal ultrasound is an outpatient procedure done without anesthetics or any incisions. It doesn’t take a lot of planning or preparation, but it can help you feel more comfortable on the day of your ultrasound if you:

  • Wear minimal jewelry and be ready to take it off.
  • Wear clothes that are easy to remove so you can get into a hospital gown quickly.
  • If you’re using a tampon or menstrual cup, remove it before the test.
  • Ask the doctor if you should have a full or empty bladder for the test.

Uterine cancer most often causes excess or abnormal vaginal bleeding. This can appear in a few different ways, including:

Additional uterine cancer symptoms can include:

An ultrasound is one of several tests that are used to diagnose uterine cancer. Additional tests you’ll likely have if a doctor suspects uterine cancer include:

The outlook for people with uterine cancer depends on a variety of factors. As is true for all cancers, the stage at diagnosis often makes a significant difference in treatment success.

The 5-year survival rate between 2012–2018 for people who received a diagnosis of uterine cancer at an early stage was 96%. Additional factors, such as genetics, response to treatment, age, and general health, also make a large difference.

The overall 5-year survival rate for uterine cancer at any stage between 2012–2018 was 84%. A doctor can help you understand the factors that affect your outlook.

Is a transvaginal ultrasound painful?

The shape of the transducer probe and the lubricating gel used during the procedure allows the test to be done without pain. You might feel some pressure or slight discomfort, but there shouldn’t be pain.

Do ultrasounds have any side effects?

Ultrasounds are a safe procedure without side effects or recovery time.

Can I take medications on the day of my ultrasound?

You’ll typically be able to take medications as normal on the day of your ultrasound. But it’s always best to ask a doctor just to make sure they don’t have any specific instructions.

An ultrasound is one of several tests that can help diagnose uterine cancer. The test can help doctors see the inside of the pelvic cavity to look for abnormal growth and thickening of endometrial tissue.

If any growths are spotted on an ultrasound, you’ll likely have a biopsy so that cells from the growth can be tested for cancer in a lab. This step can confirm a cancer diagnosis.