Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Uterine Cancer

The exact cause of uterine cancer is unknown, but there are a number of factors that put you more at risk. 

Risk factors include:

  • Obesity, the leading risk factor
  • Advancing age
  • History of endometrial hyperplasia
  • Estrogen therapy
  • Diabetes
  • History of an inherited form of colon cancer (called hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer or Lynch syndrome)
  • History of breast or ovarian cancer
  • History of taking tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment or prevention
  • Race (African-American women are affected with uterine sarcoma at a rate twice that of Caucasian or Asian women)
  • History of radiation therapy to the pelvic area
  • High-fat diet
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Reproductive and menstrual history (The risk increases if you never had children, had your first period before age 12 and/or went through menopause after age 55)


Diagnostic testing and procedures for uterine cancer include:

  • A detailed medical history
  • A thorough physical exam
  • Pelvic examination of your uterus, vagina, ovaries, bladder and rectum (may include a Pap test)
  • Ultrasound to look at your uterus and nearby tissue and check for tumors
  • Biopsy, or removal of a sample of tissue, to see if the tissue contains cancer cells
  • Dilation and curettage (D & C), a minor operation in which the cervix is dilated, so that the cervical canal and uterine lining can be scraped and evaluated

If you are diagnosed with uterine cancer, Northwestern Medicine is home to the very latest treatment options provided by skilled cancer specialists. Our team offers a multidisciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating the disease and our surgical results for treating cancer are among the best anywhere. 

Together, we will develop a treatment plan, tailored to your specific condition, that offers the help and hope you need.