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.
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.
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.