Uterine (Womb) Cancer

Cancer of the uterus (womb) usually develops in postmenopausal women, although it is not uncommon in women under 50. Because of its symptoms, uterine cancer is usually detected in early stages and therefore has a good prognosis.


What are the symptoms of uterine cancer?
Postmenopausal vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge are the most common presenting symptoms and therefore it is advised to visit a gynaecologist even if there was only one episode of vaginal spotting. In premenopausal women, irregular, heavy periods need investigation and firstly, cancer needs to be excluded.

How can uterine cancer be diagnosed?
Patients with postmenopausal bleeding should be urgently seen by a gynaecologist for an examination, a vaginal ultrasound scan and a biopsy from the uterus. This biopsy can usually be done as an outpatient procedure (Pipelle biopsy) but occasionally can only be performed under general anaesthesia (D&C). If endometrial cancer is confirmed on biopsy, an MRI-scan is to be performed to assess tumour spread within and outside the uterus.

What is the treatment for uterine cancer
The standard management for uterine cancer is a total hysterectomy (with the removal of ovaries and tubes). Occasionally pelvic lymph nodes are also removed in suspected high-risk cases.

Our standard approach is a laparoscopic hysterectomy to facilitate quicker recovery with less complications. There is substantial evidence that laparotomy (tummy cut operation) should be avoided.

Patients may require radiotherapy after the operation.

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