Uterine cancer stages are based on tumor growth and cancer spread. Lower stages mean there’s a smaller tumor in your uterus. Later stages mean there’s a larger tumor beyond the uterus and cancer in lymph nodes and other areas of your body.
Uterine cancer is cancer that forms in your uterus. The
Uterine cancer stages are based on the size and spread of tumors and are determined at the time of diagnosis. Doctors use the cancer stage to plan treatment and discuss options and outlook.
There are two primary types of uterine cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. Uterine cancers are classified by where in your uterus they develop.
Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. It occurs when cancer develops in the lining of your uterus. About
Being diagnosed with uterine cancer starts with a visit to a healthcare professional. You’ll discuss your symptoms and have a physical exam. This will likely include a pelvic exam so that the doctor can check for any abnormalities in your vagina, uterus, ovaries, and rectum. If they suspect you have uterine cancer, they’ll order additional tests. This might include:
- pap test
- blood tests
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- CT scan
- transvaginal ultrasound
- endometrial biopsy
- biomarker testing
Once a diagnosis of uterine cancer is confirmed, doctors will stage the tumor. Cancer staging allows doctors to talk about tumor size and cancer spread. It’s a way to plan and discuss your outlook and treatment options. There are two systems used for staging uterine cancer:
- the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) system
- the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging system
The two systems are very similar. Both systems assign stages based on tumor spread. Higher stages indicate that the tumor has grown and that the cancer has spread beyond your uterus.
Stage 1 cancer in both systems is early stage cancer with small tumors that haven’t extended beyond your uterus and with cancer that isn’t found throughout your body. Stages 3 and 4 of both systems are late stage cancers with large tumors that have grown out of your uterus. In stage 4, cancer has also spread throughout your body.
More detailed information about each stage is available below.
Stage 1 cancer is only located in your uterus. It hasn’t yet spread to other parts of your body. Stage 1 is separated into two substages, 1A and 1B:
- Stage 1A: In stage 1A, cancer is either only the endometrium layer or is less than half through the muscle layer of your uterus, which is called the myometrium.
- Stage 1B: In stage 1B, cancer has spread halfway or further into the myometrium.
Stage 2 uterine cancer is cancer that hasn’t spread outside your uterus but has begun to spread into the connective tissue of your cervix. It hasn’t spread throughout your body.
Stage 3 uterine cancer has spread past both your uterus and your cervix. It hasn’t spread outside of the pelvic area. There are three substages of stage 2:
- Stage 3A: In stage 3A, cancer has spread to the outer layer of the uterus. It might have also spread to your ovaries and fallopian tubes.
- Stage 3B: Cancer has spread to your vagina in stage 3B. It might have also spread to the connective tissue and fat that surrounds your uterus.
- Stage 3C1: Cancer is growing in your uterus and surrounding tissue but hasn’t spread beyond the pelvis in stage 3C1. It has spread to the lymph nodes in your pelvis, but not to the aorta.
- Stage 3C2: In stage 3C2, cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in your pelvis and to the aorta.
In stage 4 uterine cancer, there’s cancer spread beyond the pelvis. Cancer has spread into further reaches of your body. Stage 4 has two substages:
- Stage 4A: In stage 4A, cancer has spread to the inner lining of your rectum, bladder, or both.
- Stage 4B: Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and to areas of your body such as your abdomen and the lymph nodes in your groin.
|Cancer is contained to the uterus
|Cancer hasn’t spread past the mid-layer of the myometrium
|Cancer has spread through half or more of the myometrium
|Cancer is growing to the connective tissue of the cervix, but not outside the uterus
|Cancer has spread to the outer surface of uterus, the ovaries, or the fallopian tubes
|Cancer has spread to the vagina or to the tissue and fatty layer surrounding the uterus
|Cancer has spread to nearby tissue and to pelvic lymph nodes
|Cancer has spread to pelvic lymph nodes and aorta
|Cancer has spread outside of pelvis to the lining of bladder, rectum, or both
|Cancer has spread to distant areas such as the abdomen
Uterine cancer stages help doctors plan treatment and discuss your outlook and options. Stages are determined at diagnosis and are based on factors such as tumor growth and cancer spread throughout your body.
There are two primary staging systems for uterine cancer, but they don’t differ in how they separate the stages.
Early stages of uterine cancer involve tumors that haven’t spread beyond the uterus and cancer that isn’t found throughout the body, while later stages involve tumor growth into other tissues and organs and cancer spread into other body areas.