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Deb Gordon

Deborah D. Gordon has spent her career trying to level the playing field for healthcare consumers. She is co-founder of Umbra Health Advocacy, a marketplace for patient advocacy services, and co-director of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, the premiere membership organization for independent advocates. She is the author of "The Health Care Consumer's Manifesto: How to Get the Most for Your Money," based on consumer research she conducted as a senior fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Deb previously spent more than two decades in healthcare leadership roles, including chief marketing officer for a Massachusetts health plan and CEO of a health technology company. Deb is an Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow, an Eisenhower Fellow and a Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree. Her contributions have appeared in JAMA Network Open, the Harvard Business Review blog, USA Today, RealClear Politics, The Hill and Managed Care Magazine. She earned a BA in bioethics from Brown University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

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Is It Endometriosis or Endometrial Cancer?

How to tell the difference about these conditions with similar symptoms and what to do about it either way

Conditions & Treatments

Medically reviewed by Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., FACOG

Endometriosis and endometrial cancer (also called uterine cancer) can be hard to tell apart.

Both involve the inner lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. And both can cause heavy bleeding. But, they aren’t related to each other.

You may wonder:

  • Is endometriosis a type of cancer? The answer is no. Endometriosis is when cells grow in places and ways that they shouldn’t. But it is not cancer.
  • Can endometriosis cause endometrial cancer? No. Endometriosis does not cause endometrial cancer.

How can you tell if you have endometriosis or endometrial cancer?

Check out this chart to learn more about each condition.

What is it?


When endometrial cells grow outside the uterus in parts of the body such as the bladder, bowels and intestines.

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

Cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus.

Who is most at risk?


Women may be at higher risk for endometriosis if they:

  • Have a family history of endometriosis
  • Started their before 11
  • Have menstrual cycles(less than 27 days)
  • Have heavy periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Are infertile, have never given birth or had kids at an older age

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

Women may be at higher risk for endometrial cancer if they:

  • Have never gotten pregnant
  • Have obesity
  • Have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or other conditions that raise estrogen levels
  • Take hormone therapy
  • Have a family history of certain cancers
  • Are Black

What are the symptoms?


  • Severe cramps
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex and/or while peeing
  • Heavy periods

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after menopause

When is it diagnosed?


Typically diagnosed in 30s and 40s, though younger women with unexplained pelvic pain may also be diagnosed

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

Typically diagnosed after menopause, but more women are being diagnosed younger

How is it diagnosed?


  • Surgery to confirm the presence of endometrial growths
  • Positive response to medicine used to treat endometriosis

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

  • Pelvic exam
  • Transvaginal ultrasound
  • Hysteroscopy
  • Biopsy (taking a sample of tissue from the uterus)

What are the treatments?


  • Pain medication
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Surgery

Endometrial/Uterine Cancer

This resource was created with support from Merck.

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