Cancer type:

Uterine Cancer

  • Uterine cancer, often called womb or endometrial cancer, is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system
  • Around 8,500 people are diagnosed with uterine cancer in the UK every year
  • Uterine cancer is most common in women from 40-70 and after the menopause
  • The risks of developing uterine cancer increase with age
  • The earlier the intervention the better the outcome
  • If diagnosed and treated early the survival rates for uterine cancer are high at 73%
  • Treatment is usually a hysterectomy which is very effective in terms of stopping uterine cancer
  • As part of deciding on your treatment, however, there can be other side effects for women
  • The risk factors include the HPV virus, ageing and a confirmed family history
  • Lifestyle factors are vital, so you can take charge and take better care of your body
  • Healthy lifestyle choices like diet, exercise and reasonable alcohol intake all reduce the risks
  • Critical risk factors include being overweight around the stomach or obese, and a lack of physical activity
  • A family history of womb cancer will increase your risks for cancer of the uterus
  • Womb cancer is most common in women from 40-70 and in women after the menopause
  • The HPV virus can also be a risk factor for womb cancer
  • There are some increased risks from taking oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Other risk factors include starting your periods early and/or having a late menopause
  • See your GP as a matter of course if you experience any abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Be aware of changes in your usual pattern of menstruation, such as irregular or heavier periods
  • Also be aware of problems urinating, as this can sometimes be another symptom of womb cancer
  • Taking Tamoxifen (a treatment for breast cancer) can unfortunately increase your risks for womb cancer
  • While unlikely that these symptoms are caused by uterine cancer, they should still be investigated by your GP
  • Change your lifestyle for the better, eating well and avoiding excess alcohol intake
  • If you are overweight, begin losing weight in a sensible, controlled and sustainable way
  • Because there is no screening test for Uterine cancer, picking up on symptoms early is vital
  • The most common symptom of womb cancer is abnormal bleeding from the vagina
  • Bleeding may start lightly accompanied by a watery discharge, which may get heavier over time
  • Most women diagnosed with womb cancer have been through the menopause, so any vaginal bleeding is unusual
  • For pre-menopausal women, risk indicators include periods that are heavier than usual and bleeding between normal periods
  • Less common symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen and pain during sex
  • At a more advanced stage, womb cancer symptoms include pain in the back, legs, or pelvis
  • When more advanced you may also experience loss of appetite, tiredness and nausea
  • If you are concerned about any of these symptoms then see your GP
  • Your GP may conduct a physical examination of your pelvic area including vagina, womb, ovaries, and bladder
  • If positive, you will be referred to a specialist who may carry out a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU)
  • If the TVU detects changes in the uterine lining, you’ll usually have a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis
  • Once diagnosed, you may have further tests to help determine the stage and grade of the cancer
  • These tests may include chest X-rays to check if the cancer has spread to the lungs
  • Also used are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography (CT) scans to check for spreading
  • Staging the cancer allows doctors to assess its size, whether it has spread and the best treatment options
  • Grading the cancer indicates how fast it is likely to spread subsequently
  • Your chances of surviving womb cancer depend on the stage when it's diagnosed - early diagnosis is vital
  • The most common treatment for womb cancer is the surgical removal of the uterus, known as a hysterectomy
  • A hysterectomy can cure womb cancer in its early stages, but pregnancy will not be an option
  • Surgery for womb cancer is also likely to include the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes
  • After surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy are also sometimes used
  • These treatments can relieve symptoms and prolong your life even if the cancer is advanced and incurable
  • Living with uterine cancer is challenging with sexual difficulties, but can still be very meaningful too
Download Uterine Cancer Factsheet

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