The stage of the womb cancer describes:
- how far the cancer has grown
- if it has spread from where it started.
Knowing the stage of the cancer is important. It helps you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment.
The exact stage of the cancer is usually confirmed after surgery (if you have this). We have more information about surgery.
Womb cancer is divided into 4 main stages.
The cancer is contained in the womb. About 3 out of 4 womb cancers (75%) are diagnosed at stage 1.
Stage 1 can be divided into:
- stage 1A – the cancer is only in the lining of the womb, or has grown less than halfway into the muscle
- stage 1B – the cancer has grown halfway or more into the muscle wall.
The cancer has spread to the cervix (the neck of the womb).
The cancer has spread outside the womb but has not spread beyond the pelvis.
Stage 3 can be divided into:
- stage 3A – the cancer has spread to the outer surface of the womb or the ovaries and fallopian tubes, or both
- stage 3B – the cancer has spread into the vagina or into the tissues around the womb (parametrium), or both
- stage 3C – the cancer has spread to pelvic lymph nodes, or to lymph nodes in the tummy (abdomen).
How cancer stages are described
Your doctor or nurse may use some of the following terms to describe the cancer:
- early-stage womb cancer – this usually means stage 1 and stage 2 womb cancers
- locally advanced womb cancer – this usually means stage 3 and stage 4A womb cancers
- advanced, metastatic or secondary womb cancer – this usually means stage 4B womb cancer
- recurrent cancer – this means a cancer that has come back after treatment (it is not usually given a stage).
Grading is about how the cancer cells look under the microscope compared with normal cells. The grade helps your doctor to decide about your treatment. Womb cancer can be graded as:
Grade 1 or low-grade or well differentiated
The cancer cells look like normal cells, usually grow slowly and are less likely to spread
Grade 2 or moderate-or intermediate-grade
The cancer cells look more abnormal and are slightly faster growing
Grade 3 or high-grade or poorly differentiated
The cancer cells look very different from normal cells and may grow more quickly.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our womb cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Concin et al. ESGO/ESTRO/ESP guidelines for the management of patients with endometrial carcinoma. International Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2021. Available from www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33397713/
Royal College of Radiotherapy: Clinical Oncology. Radiotherapy dose fractionation, third edition. 2019. Available from www.rcr.ac.uk/publication/radiotherapy-dose-fractionation-third-edition
Sundar et al. BGCS uterine cancer guidelines: Recommendations for practice. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2017. Available from www.bgcs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/BGCSEndometrial-Guidelines-2017.pdf
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Nick Reed, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.
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