Womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women, after breast, ovarian and bowel cancers. An estimated 9,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with this disease annually, but unfortunately, not much is known about it.
Like many cancers, there’s no exact cause of womb cancer, but new research shows that there is increased risk - 88% - among people who are overweight. Other factors that make some people more prone to developing this cancer include:
- Age: One in 36 women born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with womb cancer (the most common type being uterine cancer) in their lifetime, meaning it’s typically diagnosed among women above 50.
- High fat diet: As is the case with other cancers, a diet high in animal fat can increase your risk of womb cancer.
- Family history: Some people inherit genetic mutations of certain cancers from their parents, thus increasing their risk of being diagnosed with womb cancer.
The difficulty with this type of cancer and probably why it receives so little attention is that its symptoms resemble those of many conditions. This is particularly so for any disease related to the reproductive organs.
The major sign of uterine cancer is heavy vaginal bleeding during menopause. Because it mainly affects older women who do not expect to bleed during menopause, womb cancer can be treated when detected early.
Other symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding between periods before menopause.
- Lower abdominal pain or cramping in your pelvis, just below your belly.
- Thin white or clear vaginal discharge if you’re postmenopausal.
- Extremely prolonged, heavy or frequent vaginal bleeding if you’re older than 40.
According to the NHS:
Having these symptoms does not definitely mean you have womb cancer. But it's important to get the symptoms checked by a GP. Do not wait to contact a GP. This is because if they're caused by cancer, finding it early can mean it's easier to treat.