Endometrial carcinoma is a malignant tumor affecting the corpus of the uterus, i.e. the tumor stemming from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium).
After the cancer is confirmed, doctors take into consideration all data and according to the stage of the disease, patient's age and the overall health as well as other factors chose the most convenient treatment modality.
Staging System for Endometrial Cancer
Staging endometrial cancer, similarly to staging other cancers, provides with information about progression and the outcome/prognosis of the disease. Also, according to the stage patients receive different treatments. Staging system allows better insight in whether the cancer remains localized onto the organ it originates from, or it has already spread to regional lymph nodes or has given metastases to distant organs and organ systems.
Stage I Endometrial Cancer
In stage one endometrial cancer the tumor remains inside the uterus. This stage is further classified into stage IA, IB and IC. IA stage means that cancer cells stay localized in the endometrium, stage IB includes infiltration of the endometrium and the inner half of the myometrium while stage IC means that the entire myometrium is infiltrated together with the endometrium.
Stage II Endometrial Cancer
In stage II endometrial cancer, the tumor spreads to the cervix, but there is still no further spread outside the organ. This stage is additionally classified into IIA and IIB.
As for stage IIA, patients suffer from tumor which has affected and spread only to the glands located at the site of contact between the cervix and the rest of the uterus. In stage IIB the tumor affects connective tissue of the cervix.
Stage III Endometrial Cancer
This is a rather advanced stage when the tumor spreads outside the uterus but remains inside the pelvis. In stage IIIA the tumor infiltrates the outermost layer of the uterus, tissue just beyond the uterus of the peritoneum. In stage IIIB tumor infiltrates the vagina. And finally, in stage IIIC there are tumor cells located in the lymph nodes near the uterus.
Stage IV Endometrial Cancer
This is the last stage of endometrial cancer and refers to all tumors which have spread outside the pelvis and affected distant organs. In stage IVA the tumor infiltrates the bladder, bowel and sometimes even both organs. Stage IVB is characterized by spread of tumor cells to lymph nodes beyond the pelvis, into abdominal organs and groin lymph nodes.
As for prognosis of the disease, the best outcome is reported in patients in early stage of the disease, who may, after treatment, enter long-term remission. Those in advanced stages (especially the fourth stage) undergo palliative treatment and, unfortunately, eventually face inevitable lethal outcome.