I was concerned to read recently that very few women recognise the signs of womb cancer, despite it being the fourth most common cancer amongst women in the UK.
Almost 9,000 women are diagnosed with womb cancer every year in the UK, making it vitally important to be able to spot when something might be wrong.
As always, the earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Womb cancer has some distinctive symptoms which I am happy to share with you.
The most common symptom of womb cancer is unusual bleeding from the vagina, although most people with abnormal bleeding do not have cancer.
It may start as light bleeding and a watery discharge, which may get heavier over time. Most women diagnosed with womb cancer have been through the menopause, so any vaginal bleeding will be unusual.
In women who have not been through the menopause, unusual vaginal bleeding may be periods that are heavier than usual and vaginal bleeding in between normal periods.
If womb cancer reaches a more advanced stage, it may cause additional symptoms. These include pain in the back or legs, nausea and tiredness.
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 and can offer reassurances. As I’ve already made clear, the best way to treat cancer is by catching it early.
The most common treatment for womb cancer is to have surgery to remove the womb, which is known as a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can cure womb cancer in its early stages, but you will no longer be able to get pregnant.
A type of hormone therapy known as progestogen may be used if you have not yet been 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.
I appreciate that this is a sensitive issue, but I urge anyone experiencing any problems to speak to their GP as soon as possible. Don’t leave it too late. There’s no need to die of embarrassment!