Uterine cancer can spread to nearby locations, such as the bladder, ovaries, and cervix, as well as to distant spots, such as the lungs and liver. The speed of growth depends on the type of uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer is a cancer that develops in the lining of the uterus. It’s sometimes called endometrial cancer. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding and painful sex.
There are several types of uterine cancer, and the most common, type 1, spreads slowly. Other types are more aggressive and faster to spread throughout the body.
When uterine cancer spreads (metastasizes), it can reach nearby areas, such as the bladder, cervix, and ovaries, as well as distant organs, such as the lungs and liver. Uterine cancer that has spread is more difficult to treat than cancer contained in the uterus. It’s also linked to lower survival rates.
This article reviews where uterine cancer commonly spreads and how quickly it spreads.
Uterine cancer begins in the lining of the uterus. From there, it can spread to other areas of the body. Like most cancers, uterine cancer will spread to nearby areas before it spreads to distant parts of the body.
Areas uterine cancer might spread to include:
|Nearby locations||Distant locations|
|middle wall of the uterus||lymph nodes in the aorta|
|outer wall of the uterus||lymph nodes in other areas of the body, such as the collarbone|
|cervix||stomach and abdominal region|
|lymph nodes in the pelvis||bones|
Research shows that the lungs are the most common distant location uterine cancer spreads. Once uterine cancer spreads to the lungs or liver, there’s a high risk of spread to the brain and bones.
Spread to these organs is associated with lower survival time.
There are multiple types of uterine cancer. The speed of cancer growth depends on the type of uterine cancer. The most common type of uterine cancer, type 1, grows slowly and is unlikely to spread far.
Type 1 uterine cancers are typically
Type 2 uterine cancers are rarer and spread quickly. They often grow in other parts of the body. About 95% of all uterine cancers are type 1 or type 2.
- leiomyosarcoma: fast growing and likely to spread
- endometrial stromal sarcoma (ESS): fast growing and likely to spread
- endometrial stromal sarcoma: slow growing
For most people, the first sign of uterine cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding. You might notice:
- heavy menstrual periods
- spotting and bleeding between menstrual periods
- continual bleeding
- bleeding after sex
- bleeding after menopause
You might also have symptoms such as painful sex or a change to vaginal discharge. As cancer spreads, you might have additional symptoms. These can include:
The outlook for a person with uterine cancer that has spread depends on a variety of factors, including:
- where the cancer has spread
- your age
- your overall health
- your response to treatment
Cancer that has spread to local areas, such as the bladder, is associated with better outcomes than spread to distant sites such as the lungs. Spread to areas such as the bone and brain is associated with very low survival rates.
Like all cancers, uterine cancer is harder to treat once it spreads. According to the
|Spread location||5-year relative survival rate|
|to distant organs||20%|
|to nearby areas||72%|
The overall 5-year relative survival rate for uterine cancer between 2012–2018 was 84%.
It’s important to note that these numbers represent historical data. Cancer treatments are continuously improving. It’s possible that current survival rates for uterine cancer are higher than these numbers suggest.
Uterine cancer is a cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus. The most common type of uterine cancer, type 1 uterine cancer, is slow growing and unlikely to spread to distant locations.
However, it is possible for uterine cancer to spread throughout the body. When it spreads, it can grow into local areas, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder, as well as distant areas, such as the bones, liver, and brain.
Spread to distant areas is associated with more difficult outcomes and lower survival rates.