This article will help you read and understand your pathology report for endometriosis.

by Jason Wasserman, MD PhD FRCPC, reviewed on July 30, 2019

Quick facts:
  • Endometriosis is a non-cancerous condition that develops when the tissue normally found on the inside of the uterus starts growing in another part of the body.
  • It commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and colon.
  • The most common symptom is pain.
The anatomy of the endometrium

​The inner lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. The purpose of the endometrium is to provide support for a fertilized egg to develop and grow. The inner surface of the endometrium is lined by epithelial cells that connect together to form glands. The tissue in between the glands is called stroma and its role is to provide support for the glands.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a non-cancerous condition that occurs when glands and stroma from the endometrium are found outside in any tissue outside of the endometrium.

It commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and colon (large bowel), however, it can occur anywhere in the body.

Many women with endometriosis experience pain and the pain may be worst at the same time as their normal menstrual period. Over time, this condition can cause large blood filled cysts to develop. These cysts can become very large and may eventually need to be removed.

Cancers associated with endometriosis

Although endometriosis is considered a non-cancerous condition, it is associated with an increased risk of cancer. In particular, when this condition involves the ovary, it is believed to provide the ‘seed’ for the development of clear cell carcinoma and endometrioid carcinoma.

While many women have this condition, very few will develop either of these cancers and so the risk is actually very low.

Other helpful resources

Office on Women’s health

Endometriosis Foundation of America


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