Blood tests can help diagnose, stage, and determine how to treat uterine cancer. If your doctor suspects you have uterine cancer, they’ll also order imaging tests and a biopsy to confirm it.

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There are currently no screening tests for uterine cancer. However, if you’re having symptoms like abnormal uterine bleeding or unusual vaginal discharge, your doctor can order blood tests.

Continue reading to learn more about blood tests as well as other tests that doctors use to detect uterine cancer.

Medical professionals can use blood tests during the early stages of a uterine cancer diagnosis. The test results can give your doctor a better idea of your overall health and may also flag markers that signal the presence of cancer.

It’s important to point out that no blood test can definitively diagnose uterine cancer.

You will need additional tests, like imaging and biopsy, to confirm a diagnosis. Your doctor will perform a biopsy by removing a small tissue sample and closely analyzing it.

If a medical professional has already diagnosed you with uterine cancer, they can also use blood tests to monitor how effective your treatment is.

Doctors can use a couple of different blood tests to help detect uterine cancer. We’ll explore each of them in a little more detail below.

CA-125 test

CA-125 is a tumor marker. Generally speaking, tumor markers are substances made by cancer cells or produced by the body in response to cancer.

CA-125 is most commonly associated with ovarian cancer, but it can be made by other tissues, such as the endometrium (uterine lining).

High levels of CA-125 in the blood can signal that endometrial cancer has spread beyond the uterus, such as to the lymph nodes or more distant tissues. A CA-125 test can also tell your doctor how effective your treatment is. If CA-125 levels decrease, it can be a sign that your treatment is effective against the cancer.

Complete blood count

A complete blood count is a common type of blood test that you typically have during a routine physical. It measures the levels of different cells in the blood.

Since uterine cancer can cause abnormal uterine bleeding, it can lead to anemia. Anemia is when your red blood cell (RBC) counts are lower than normal.

A 2018 study also found that high levels of mean corpuscular volume (MCV) were associated with endometrial cancer. Having a high MCV means your RBCs are larger than expected, which can be a sign of anemia.

Overall, there are currently no markers in the blood that can reliably detect uterine cancer. Researchers are continuing to look for blood markers and tests that can help find uterine cancer early.

One promising marker is called HE4. Research has found that over 90% of endometrial cancers have high levels of HE4. Compared to CA-125, HE4 may also be more sensitive and specific at detecting it.

Additionally, a 2020 study used a technique called blood spectroscopy as well as machine learning to try to detect endometrial cancer in blood samples. Overall, this test correctly detected it 87% of the time while correctly ruling out it 78% of the time.

In addition to blood tests, your doctor will order several other tests to diagnose uterine cancer.

A healthcare professional can use an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound to look for uterine cancer. A transvaginal ultrasound can also help determine the thickness of the endometrium, which is often thicker in endometrial cancer.

Then, a doctor will need a biopsy sample to confirm a diagnosis of uterine cancer. This may involve:

A medical professional will test the biopsy sample in a lab to look for cancer cells. They can also do additional tests on the sample to further characterize the cancer.

If a doctor has diagnosed you with uterine cancer, further imaging tests can help determine the extent or stage of the cancer. These tests may include:

The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal uterine bleeding. This is bleeding that:

Additional symptoms of uterine cancer can include:

Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have uterine cancer. However, it’s still important to speak with your doctor about any symptoms like abnormal uterine bleeding. They can order tests to determine what’s going on.

The outlook for uterine cancer improves the sooner a doctor diagnoses it, so early detection is vital.

Doctors can use blood tests to help diagnose and stage uterine cancer. They may also use them to monitor the effectiveness of uterine cancer treatment.

However, there’s currently no blood test that can definitely diagnose uterine cancer. Imaging tests and analysis of a biopsy sample are essential to confirm the diagnosis.

The most common symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal uterine bleeding, so it’s important to speak with your doctor if you develop this or other concerning symptoms. Your doctor can do tests to help find the cause of your symptoms.