Types, Grades and Stages of Womb Cancer

Types of womb (endometrial) cancer

​​The majority of people who have investigations will be found not to have womb cancer.

There are several different types of womb cancer, the most common of which (95%) is called adenocarcinoma and starts in the lining of the womb. Adenocarcinomas can be sub-classified as endometrioid, uterine serous or clear cell carcinomas. These different types refer to the type of cells that form the cancer. Other rarer types of womb cancer include uterine carcinosarcoma and uterine sarcoma and which starts in the muscle layer of the womb.

​​Grade of womb cancer

The grade of the cancer is how abnormal the cells look under a microscope. This gives the medical team an idea of how quickly the cancer might grow or whether it is likely to spread. Womb cancer can be classified as Grade 1, 2 or 3. Grade 1 cancers tend to be slower growing and are less likely to spread. Grade 3 cancers tend to be faster growing and are more likely to spread.


The stage of a cancer is a measure of how big the tumour is and whether it has spread. 

  • ​​Stage 1 (either 1A or 1B) means that the cancer is within the womb and has not spread outside of the womb. 
  • ​​Stage 2 means that the cancer has grown into the cervix (the neck of the womb).
  • ​​Stage 3 means that the cancer has spread outside of the womb but is still within the pelvis. These can be stage 3A, 3B or 3C. 
  • ​​Stage 4 (A or B) means that the cancer has spread outside of the pelvis to other areas of the body.

Pre-cancerous diagnoses

Investigations may diagnose a pre-cancerous change within the lining of the womb, known as endometrial hyperplasia. Hyperplasia can be diagnosed with or without atypia (how normal the cells look under the microscope). Hyperplasia is an irregular thickening of the womb lining and if left untreated, can progress to womb cancer.