Various conditions both benign and cancerous (malignant) can affect the uterus, the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows. Fibroid tumors on the uterine wall are benign (not cancerous), and women who have them are not at increased risk for uterine cancer. Abnormal growth of cells in the uterus' lining -- called the endometrium -- is called endometrial hyperplasia. It is the most serious benign uterine condition, and in some women it evolves into uterine cancer.
Most uterine cancers arise in the endometrium and are called endometrial cancer or endometrial carcinoma. The more aggressive uterine sarcoma arises in the wall of the uterus and accounts for less than 5% of all cases.
If left untreated, endometrial cancer can penetrate the wall of the uterus and invade the bladder or rectum, or it can spread to the vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries and more distant organs. Fortunately, endometrial cancer grows slowly and usually is detected before spreading very far.
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