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Endometrial Cancer

The womb, also known as the uterus, is a pear-shaped organ in the female reproductive system that holds the baby during pregnancy. The lining of the womb is called the endometrium, and cancer of the endometrium (endometrial cancer) is the most common form of womb cancer.

What is endometrial cancer?

Endometrial cancer occurs when the cells in the womb lining, begin to mutate and grow in an abnormal way.

What are the symptoms of endometrial cancer?

Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of endometrial cancer.

If you have gone through the menopause, any vaginal bleeding that occurs should be considered unusual and this post menopausal bleeding is the commonest symptom in endometrial cancer

Bleeding in between periods or heavy irregular periods can occasionally be a symptom too.

What causes endometrial cancer?

Endometrial cancer generally occurs in older women and has increased significantly in recent years because it is much more common on obese women. There is an association with Diabetes and high blood pressure.

Oestrogen levels are higher in significantly overweight patients leading to the stimulation of the endometrium to form hyperplasia. This can, in some people, progress into cancer.

Tamoxifen (commonly used in Breast cancer), incorrectly taken HRT or Polycystic ovarian Syndrome can also lead to endometrial cancer.

Some people have genetic abnormalities the commonest of which is Lynch Syndrome.

How is endometrial cancer diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should see your consultant.

Your consultant may do an internal examination of your vagina. In order to confirm whether you have endometrial cancer, you may also undergo:

  • A transvaginal ultrasound scan – this creates an image of the interior of your womb, which your consultant can review
  • An endometrial biopsy – a plastic tube is inserted vaginally into your womb, and cells are removed from the womb lining
  • A hysteroscopy – a small telescope (hysteroscope) is inserted into your vagina and cervix in order to see the inside of your uterus

How is endometrial cancer treated?

The way endometrial cancer is treated is dependent upon the stage of cancer and your general health.

A hysterectomy (surgical removal of the womb) is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer. The fallopian tubes and ovaries will usually be removed as well. This is called a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy.

This operation should be done through keyhole surgery if possible as recovery is quicker than through a large abdominal incision.

A hysterectomy is usually an effective cure for early stage endometrial cancer, but does of course mean that it will be impossible to become pregnant afterwards

Your consultant might also recommend that you undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy in addition to a hysterectomy once all the tissue removed has been analysed.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Alan Farthing  ›

Mr Alan Farthing is a gynaecologist who specialises in complex surgery.

Find your specialist in endometrial cancer at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have endometrial cancer and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading gynaecology specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Davor Jurkovic  ›
Special interests include:
Ovarian cancer (+ 6) more
Mr Joseph Yazbek  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological imaging (+ 18) more
Professor Christina Fotopoulou  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological cancer (+ 2) more
Professor Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological cancer (+ 3) more
Professor Maria Kyrgiou  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological surgery (+ 6) more
Mr Alan Farthing  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological oncology (+ 3) more
Mr Thomas Ind  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological surgery (+ 8) more
Mr Srdjan Saso  ›
Special interests include:
Ovarian cancer (+ 24) more

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