Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook
Search NetWellness

Endometrial cancer

Stages of Endometrial Cancer

There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:

  • Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
  • Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.

Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. Cancer cells break away from where they began (the primary tumor) and travel through the lymph system or blood.

  • Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor (metastatic tumor) in another part of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor (metastatic tumor) in another part of the body.

The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if endometrial cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually endometrial cancer cells. The disease is metastatic endometrial cancer, not lung cancer.

The following stages are used for endometrial cancer:

Stage I

In stage Icancer is found in the uterus only. Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB, based on how far the cancer has spread.

Stage IA and stage IB endometrial cancer shown in two cross-section drawings of the uterus and cervix. Drawing on the left shows stage IA, with cancer in the endometrium and myometrium of the uterus. Drawing on the right shows stage IB, with cancer more than halfway through the myometrium. Also shown are the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina.
Stage IA and stage IB endometrial cancer. In stage IA, cancer is in the endometrium only or less than halfway through the myometrium (the muscle layer of the uterus). In stage IB, cancer has spread halfway or more into the myometrium.

Stage II

In stage IIcancer has spread into connective tissue of the cervix, but has not spread outside the uterus.

Stage II endometrial cancer shown in a cross-section drawing of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. Cancer is shown in the endometrium and myometrium of the uterus and in the cervix.
Stage II endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread into connective tissue of the cervix, but has not spread outside the uterus.

Stage III

In stage IIIcancer has spread beyond the uterus and cervix, but has not spread beyond the pelvis. Stage III is divided into stages IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC, based on how far the cancer has spread within the pelvis.

  • Stage IIIACancer has spread to the outer layer of the uterus and/or to the fallopian tubesovaries, and ligaments of the uterus.
    Stage IIIA endometrial cancer shown in a cross-section drawing of the uterus, ligaments of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. Cancer is shown in the endometrium of the uterus, the outer layer of the uterus, a fallopian tube, an ovary, and a ligament of the uterus.
    Stage IIIA endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread to the outer layer of the uterus and/or to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or ligaments of the uterus.
  • Stage IIIBCancer has spread to the vagina or to the parametrium (connective tissue and fat around the uterus).
    Stage IIIB endometrial cancer shown in a cross-section drawing of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. Cancer is shown in the endometrium of the uterus, the parametrium, the cervix, and the vagina.
    Stage IIIB endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread to the vagina and/or to the parametrium (connective tissue and fat around the uterus and cervix).

Stage IIICCancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and/or around the aorta (largest artery in the body, which carries blood away from the heart).

Stage IIIC endometrial cancer shown in a cross-section drawing of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. Also shown are the lymph nodes in the pelvis and the aorta with nearby lymph nodes. Cancer is shown in the endometrium and myometrium of the uterus and in lymph nodes in the pelvis and near the aorta.
Stage IIIC endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and/or around the aorta (the largest artery in the body, which carries blood away from the heart).

 

Stage IV

In stage IVcancer has spread beyond the pelvis. Stage IV is divided into stages IVA and IVB, based on how far the cancer has spread.

  • Stage IVACancer has spread to the bladder and/or bowel wall.
    Stage IVA endometrial cancer shown in a side-view cross-section drawing of the uterus, bladder, cervix, vagina, small intestine, and large intestine. Cancer is shown in the bladder, uterus, and bowel.
    Stage IVA endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread into the bladder and/or bowel.
  • Stage IVBCancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis, including the abdomen and/or lymph nodes in the groin.
    Stage IVB endometrial cancer; drawing shows cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to lymph nodes in the abdomen. Inset shows cancer spreading through the blood and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
    Stage IVB endometrial cancer. Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis to other parts of the body, such as the abdomen and/or lymph nodes in the groin.

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ(r)) Cancer Information Summaries (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdqLast Modified: April 22, 2014 

For more information:

Go to the Endometrial cancer health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Mar 27, 2015