MORE ABOUT
WOMB CANCER​

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What is womb cancer?

Womb cancer (sometimes known as endometrial or uterine cancer) affects specific cells in the womb (uterus). The womb is a part of the female reproductive system. It is a pear-shaped organ where a baby grows during pregnancy.

Womb cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in the UK.i It is not the same as other gynaecological cancers which include cervical, ovarian, vaginal and vulval.

WHO DOES WOMB CANCER AFFECT?​

Almost three-quarters of people diagnosed with womb cancer are aged between 40 to 74.v This means that many cases of womb cancer are in those who have been through the menopause. However, it can happen to anyone with a womb at any age.

This includes women, trans men, non-binary people and intersex people with a womb.

WHAT IS MENOPAUSE?VI

Menopause is a natural process that happens as women mature. This process begins when periods stop due to the ovaries no longer releasing eggs and decreasing levels of certain hormones. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can happen earlier. Menopause can also happen when ovaries or the womb are removed surgically or as a result of certain medical treatments including cancer treatments.

Perimenopause is when you have symptoms of menopause but your periods have not stopped. Perimenopause can go on for a number of years before you reach menopause.vii You are considered post-menopausal once you have been without a period for 12 months or more.

Menopause and perimenopause can be characterised by symptoms such as hot flushes, irregular periods, anxiety, mood swings and brain fog (difficulty concentrating, feeling confused or forgetful, fuzzy thoughts or thinking more slowly than usual).

Menopause and perimenopause can feel different for everyone. You may have a number of symptoms or none.vii

WHAT INCREASES THE RISK OF DEVELOPING WOMB CANCER?

There are some factors that can increase your risk of developing womb cancer. Oestrogen is a hormone that, alongside progesterone, plays a key role in controlling the growth of the lining of the womb during the menstrual cycle. When there is a change in oestrogen level, the cells in the womb lining can begin to grow in an uncontrolled way. This is why high levels of oestrogen can increase the risk of womb cancer.i,v Obesity has been linked to womb cancer as fat cells in the body produce oestrogen, even after the menopause. The more fat there is, the higher the oestrogen and the higher the risk of womb cancer.i,v Other risk factors can include age, family history, Type 2 diabetes, Tamoxifen (a hormone therapy to treat breast cancer), and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Starting periods at an early age, stopping periods at a late age and not having children are also risk factors for womb cancer.i

NEW DATA SHOWS THAT

Black women from both Caribbean and African backgrounds are twice as likely to receive a late-stage womb cancer diagnosis than White women in England.viii

References

i. Peaches Womb Cancer Trust. Information on womb cancer. Available at: https://peachestrust.org/information-on-womb-cancer/ Last accessed: August 2023

ii. Cancer Research UK. Uterine cancer incidence statistics. Available at: Uterine cancer statistics | Cancer Research UK Last accessed: August 2023.

iii. Cancer Research UK. Uterine Cancer Risk. Available at: Uterine cancer statistics | Cancer Research UK Last accessed: August 2023.

iv. Cancer Research UK. Uterine cancer mortality statistics. Available at: Uterine cancer statistics | Cancer Research UK Last accessed: August 2023.

v. Cancer Research UK. Risks and causes of womb cancer. Available at: Risks and causes of womb cancer | Cancer Research UK Last accessed: August 2023.

vi. NHS. Menopause Overview. Available at: Menopause – NHS (www.nhs.uk) Last accessed: August 2023.

vii. NHS. Menopause Symptoms. Available at: Menopause – Symptoms – NHS (www.nhs.uk) Last accessed: August 2023.

viii. BMJ. Black women in England are at greater risk of late cancer diagnosis than white women. Available at: Black women in England are at greater risk of late cancer diagnosis than white women | The BMJ Last accessed: August 2023.

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