Brought to you by BMI Ross Hall Hospital

What is uterine cancer?

Cancer of the womb (uterine cancer) is most common in women between the ages of 60 and 70, and is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. However, it is often discovered early and treated successfully. Cancer tumours are caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells. If the tumour is capable of spreading to other organs or tissue, then it is cancerous (or malignant). If it is not capable of spreading, then it is known as benign. The most common type of womb cancer occurs when cells start to grow in the lining of the womb (endometrium). This is also known as endometrial cancer.   

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of womb cancer include bleeding after the menopause, unusually heavy bleeding; bleeding between periods; pink, watery or white vaginal discharge; pelvic pain pain during intercourse; and weight loss.

About 90% of womb cancer cases are diagnosed as a result of bleeding after the menopause. It is important to remember that abnormal bleeding may be a symptom of other, more common conditions including endometriosis or fibroids. If you do experience any of these symptoms, it is important you see your doctor or a consultant gynaecologist straight away. It is unlikely to be cancer, but if it is, the sooner you have it treated, the better.

What causes this type of cancer?

The cause of womb cancer is currently unknown, there are a number of risk factors that may indicate an increased likelihood of developing womb cancer. These include family history of womb cancer and sometimes ovarian cancer; age - womb cancer most commonly develops after the menopause with 93% of cases in women between the ages of 50 and 70 ; being overweight; menstrual history – womb cancer is more likely to occur in women who began their periods relatively early, and reach menopause relatively late, and infrequent or irregular periods can also be factors.

Womb cancer is also more common in women who have not had children or who have had problems with fertility. Taking the oral contraceptive pill seems to reduce the risk of developing womb cancer. If you have suffered from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) you may have an increased risk of womb cancer. Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can increase the risk of womb cancer. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits if you are considering HRT.

How is womb cancer diagnosed?

After discussing your symptoms with you, your consultant gynaecologist may need to carry out a pelvic examination. They may carry out an endometrial biopsy – take a sample of tissue from inside the womb.

You may be given a dilatation and curettage (D and C) to analyse tissue from lining of your inner womb. If cancer is found then you will need further tests such as pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound scan, an MRI scan, or CT or CAT scan .


Treatment options and their success will depend on the stage of the cancer and how far it has spread. Most cases of womb cancer are discovered early and treated successfully.


The most common treatment is the removal of the womb by surgery (hysterectomy). Often the fallopian tubes and ovaries are also removed (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingooophorectomy). Often no further treatment is required.

Further treatment

If the cancer has spread or you have an aggressive form of cancer, further treatment may be required to destroy cancer cells that are still be present following surgery. These may include chemotherapy – in tablet form or by intravenous injection; radiotherapy – using high energy x-rays; or hormone therapy.  

Cancer treatments can cause unpleasant side effects including nausea and vomiting, fatigue and hair loss. It is important to discuss these with your consultant before deciding to go ahead. Coping with cancer can be difficult emotionally as well as physically. Help and support from your family and friends will be invaluable.  There are a number of organisations that offer support or put you in contact with other women who have been affected.

Is treatment expensive?

After your initial consultation you would be provided with a detailed quote to let you know the exact price and everything that it includes.

You may not need to meet the costs yourself as you may be covered by Private Medical Insurance of your own, or be covered through insurance at your workplace.

BMI Ross Hall Hospital sees both insured and self-pay patients.

There is also the option to take advantage of the BMI Card which offers 12 months interest free credit, £20,000 credit, and a 48-hour approval for applications of up to £7,000.

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