Womb (Endometrial) cancer

Cancer of the womb (uterine or endometrial cancer) is a common cancer that affects the female reproductive system. It’s more common in women who have been through the menopause.

The womb (uterus) is a pear-shaped organ where a baby is carried during pregnancy. It is low in the pelvis (the area between the hips) and is supported by the pelvic floor muscles.

Most womb cancers start in glandular cells found in the lining of the womb (the endometrium). They are called endometrial cancers. There are different types of endometrial cancers. Endometrial cancer is usually diagnosed early and treated successfully.

Meet the Gynaecology team.

Am I at risk?

There are certain things that can increase the risk of developing womb cancer. Most risk factors for womb cancer are linked to how much oestrogen the lining of the womb is exposed to over a woman’s lifetime. However, there are other risk factors that should be considered;

  • Age– risk increases with age
  • Hormonal factors– when there is too much oestrogen without progesterone to balance it, the risk of womb cancer increases.
  • Weight and physical activity– after the menopause, body fat is the main source of oestrogen
  • Genetic factors (family history)– a small number of womb cancers (less than 5%) are caused by gene changes that are passed on in a family.

For more information on the risk factors for womb cancer, please follow this link.

Symptoms of womb cancer

The most common symptom of womb cancer is unusual (abnormal) bleeding from the vagina, although most people with abnormal bleeding do not have cancer.

It may start as light bleeding and a watery discharge, which may get heavier over time. Most women diagnosed with womb cancer have been through the menopause, so any vaginal bleeding will be unusual.

In women who have not been through the menopause, unusual vaginal bleeding may be:

  • periods that are heavier than usual
  • vaginal bleeding in between normal periods

Less common symptoms include:

  • pain in the lower abdomen (tummy)
  • pain during sex

If womb cancer reaches a more advanced stage, it may cause additional symptoms. These include:

  • pain in the back, legs or pelvis
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness
  • nausea

If you have any unusual vaginal bleeding, always see your GP about it. Other conditions that affect the womb, such as fibroids, can also cause unusual vaginal bleeding.

Patient information

For more information from Macmillan regarding womb cancer, please follow this link.

For more information from Cancer Research UK regarding womb cancer, please follow this link.

diagram labeling key parts of female internal anatomy