What is Womb (uterus) cancer?

Womb (uterus) cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the womb (uterus) or womb lining. It is often called womb cancer or uterine cancer.

It affects about 1 in 200 women in the UK.

Womb cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the UK.

There are two main types of womb cancer:

  • Endometrial cancer This is cancer that starts in the cells of the womb lining. It can start in the womb lining before it develops into endometrial cancer.
  • Uterine cancer This is cancer that starts in the womb lining.

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. This can be because they are made from abnormal (abnormal) cells, or because they are made from certain types of abnormal cells.

The types of cancer that start in the womb lining are called womb cancer. This is because womb cancer develops in the womb.

What are the symptoms of womb cancer?

The symptoms of womb cancer are the same as the symptoms of endometrial cancer.

Some women with womb cancer have no symptoms at all. But if you do have symptoms, you may find that your symptoms are similar to those of a different condition.

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (poo)
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Fatigue (lack of energy)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge (poo)
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding after menopause

You may have a cough, weight loss, or feeling tired.

Symptoms of womb cancer can start suddenly or may come and go.

There are also some symptoms that may be a sign that your womb cancer is not being treated properly. These include:

  • Abnormal bleeding between periods

How is womb cancer diagnosed?

Your GP will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history. They may also do a physical examination.

You may have tests to find out whether your symptoms are caused by womb cancer. These could include:

  • A pelvic examination to check for any swelling or tenderness in your tummy (abdomen)
  • Ultrasound scan to look for any swollen lymph nodes.
  • Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) to look at your womb
  • MRI scan to look at your womb
  • CT scan to look at your womb
  • PET scan to look at your tummy (abdomen) and other parts of your body.

How is womb cancer treated?

Your treatment plan is based on:

  • The stage of your womb cancer
  • Your general health
  • How well you are able to cope with the side effects of treatment
  • The opinion of your specialist team
  • The recommended treatment by the Gynaecological Cancer Trust UK.

Treatment for womb cancer is usually done together with treatment for endometrial cancer.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery to remove the womb (hysterectomy)
  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or both to treat the cancer
  • Hormone therapy to treat the cancer (for women who still have a womb at the time of diagnosis)
  • A combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy to treat the cancer
  • A combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat the cancer
  • Chemotherapy to treat the cancer
  • Hormone therapy to treat the cancer
  • Targeted therapy to treat the cancer
  • Immunotherapy to treat the cancer

If you are having chemotherapy, you may need to stay in hospital for a few days afterwards. You may also need to stay in hospital for a few weeks after radiotherapy.

You will have regular follow-up appointments with your GP.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for womb cancer?

The outlook for women with womb cancer is usually very good.

You may live for many years after womb cancer treatment.

Treatment for womb cancer is usually very successful.

How can I manage my symptoms?

You can manage your symptoms by:

  • Keeping your weight and energy up.
  • Not eating too much, especially before you go to bed.
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Not drinking too much alcohol.
  • Keeping up your exercise routine.
  • Avoiding hot baths or showers.

If you have a cough, you can try to keep it at a low level.

You can also manage your symptoms at home by:

  • Keeping warm.
  • Not taking hot baths or showers, as this can make your tummy (abdomen) feel heavy.
  • Using a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Avoiding spicy food.
  • Taking pain relief, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, as directed by your doctor.
  • Using a cold pack to help with any soreness.
  • Keeping your tummy (abdomen) supported with cushions.
  • Keeping your knees up when you are sitting.
  • Wearing lightweight clothing.

If you need to go to the toilet, you can do this using a sitz bath or a squat toilet. You can buy these from a pharmacy.

If you can’t keep your tummy (abdomen) supported, you can buy pads, cushions and other support at a pharmacy.

How can I help stop womb cancer coming back?

You can help stop womb cancer coming back by:

  • Keeping your weight up.
  • Keeping your energy up.

What’s the outlook?

Treating womb cancer is very successful. Many women live for many years after treatment.

If you have womb cancer, you should be able to stop having children.

Images by Freepik

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