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NHS Essex Cancer Network

Uterine Cancer

About

Cancer of the womb (uterus) is a common cancer that affects the female reproductive system. It's also called uterine cancer and endometrial cancer.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of womb cancer.

If you have been through the menopause, any vaginal bleeding is considered abnormal. If you have not yet been through the menopause, unusual bleeding may include bleeding between your periods.

You should see your GP as soon as possible if you experience any unusual vaginal bleeding. While it's unlikely to be caused by womb cancer, it's best to be sure.

Your GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms. They will refer you to a specialist for further tests if they suspect you may have a serious problem, or if they are unsure about a diagnosis.

Read more about the symptoms of womb cancer and diagnosing womb cancer.

Types of womb cancer

The vast majority of womb cancers begin in the cells that make up the lining of the womb (called the endometrium), which is why cancer of the womb is often called endometrial cancer.

In rare cases, womb cancer can start in the muscles surrounding the womb. This type of cancer is called uterine sarcoma and may be treated in a different way from endometrial cancer.

This article uses the term womb cancer, and mostly includes information about endometrial cancer. Read more information about soft tissue sarcomas.

Womb cancer is separate from other cancers of the female reproductive system, such as ovarian cancer and cervical cancer.

Why does womb cancer happen?

It's not clear exactly what causes womb cancer, but certain things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

A hormone imbalance is one of the most important risks for womb cancer. Specifically, your risk is increased if you have high levels of a hormone called oestrogen in your body.

A number of things can cause this hormone imbalance, including obesity, diabetes, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There is also a small increase in the risk of womb cancer with long-term use of the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.

It's not always possible to prevent womb cancer, but some things are thought to reduce your risk. This includes maintaining a healthy weight and the long-term use of some types of contraception.

Read more about the causes of womb cancer and preventing womb cancer.

How is womb cancer treated?

The most common treatment for womb cancer is the surgical removal of the womb (hysterectomy).

A hysterectomy can cure womb cancer in its early stages, but you will no longer be able to get pregnant. Surgery for womb cancer is also likely to include the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Radiotherapy or chemotherapy are also sometimes used, often in conjunction with surgery.

A type of hormone therapy may be used if you are yet to go through the menopause and would still like to have children.

Even if your cancer is advanced and the chances of a cure are small, treatment can still help to relieve symptoms and prolong your life.

Read more about treating womb cancer.

Living with womb cancer

Living with cancer is challenging and womb cancer can affect your life in specific ways.

For example, your sex life may be affected if you have a hysterectomy. You may find it physically more difficult to have sex and have a reduced sex drive.

You may find it beneficial to talk to other people about your condition, including family members, your partner, or other people with womb cancer.

Read more about living with womb cancer.

Who is affected?

Womb cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer of the female reproductive system. It's the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in women after breast cancer, lung cancer, and cancer of the colon and rectum.

In the UK, about 8,475 new cases of womb cancer are diagnosed each year. Womb cancer is more common in women who have been through the menopause, and most cases are diagnosed in women aged 40 to 74.

Womb cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers diagnosed in women.

Further information on uterine (womb) cancer

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for uterine (womb) cancer please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'

www.nhs.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support Website

www.macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Research UK Website

www.cancerresearchuk.org

Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.

 

Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232

 

Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines

 

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