Uterine cancer is a cancer which develops in the womb (uterus). By far the most common type of uterine cancer comes from the inner lining of the womb, the endometrium. This is endometrial cancer.
What is it?
Women have a womb (uterus) and men don't. It is a pouch surrounded by muscle in the very lower part of a woman's tummy (abdomen). The womb is where babies develop and grow during pregnancy.
So cancer of the uterus is an illness that only women can get. It is also called endometrial cancer because the endometrium is the inner lining of the womb, and this is where the cancer usually starts. Other types of cancer of the uterus are rare and are not discussed in this leaflet.
Who gets it?
As already mentioned, this is something only women have to deal with. It tends to affect women in later life, after the menopause, although it occasionally affects younger women. It is a common type of cancer - indeed, it is the fourth most common cancer affecting women in the UK.
When should I see a doctor?
Women should visit a doctor for any unexpected bleeding from the vagina. Specifically, if you:
- Have already had your menopause and stopped bleeding but then have a bleed, even if it is just a little bit of brown-ish discharge. Brown discharge is usually old blood, suggesting a light bleed.
- Bleed between your periods.
- Bleed after having sex.
Most of the time, abnormal bleeding does NOT turn out to be cancer, but it's always best to get it checked out. Better safe than sorry.
Did you find this information useful?
- Endometrial cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up; European Society for Medical Oncology (2013)
- Morice P, Leary A, Creutzberg C, et al; Endometrial cancer. Lancet. 2015 Sep 4. pii: S0140-6736(15)00130-0. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00130-0.
- Wong AW, Lao TH, Cheung CW, et al; Reappraisal of endometrial thickness for the detection of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal bleeding: a retrospective cohort study. BJOG. 2015 Mar 20. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13342.
- Kwon JS; Improving survival after endometrial cancer: the big picture. J Gynecol Oncol. 2015 Jul 26(3):227-31. doi: 10.3802/jgo.2015.26.3.227.
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