Womb (uterus) cancer : Diagnosis

See a GP if you have abnormal vaginal bleeding. While it's unlikely to be caused by womb cancer, it's best to be sure.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms, and when and how often they happen.

You will be offered a physical (internal) examination to assess your pelvic organs, including your womb and ovaries.


Tests in hospital

You may be referred to a specialist in conditions of the female reproductive organs (a gynaecologist) for further tests. Some of these tests are outlined below.

Transvaginal ultrasound scan (TVS)

A TVS is a type of ultrasound scan that uses a small probe as a scanner.

This is placed directly into the vagina to get a detailed picture of the inside of the womb. The probe can feel a little uncomfortable but should not be painful.

The TVS checks whether there are any changes to the thickness of the lining of your womb that could have been caused by the presence of a polyp or cancerous cells.

Hysteroscopy and biopsy

If the TVS detects changes in the thickness of the lining of your womb, you'll usually be offered a hysteroscopy. This is where a thin type of telescope (hysteroscope) is inserted through your vagina and into your womb, allowing a healthcare professional to look at the lining of the womb.

You are likely to have a biopsy at the same time. This involves taking a sample from the lining of your womb (the endometrium). The sample is then checked for cancerous cells at a laboratory.

This is usually an outpatient procedure where you will not need to stay in hospital.

Sometimes you may have a biopsy without hysteroscopy, called "aspiration biopsy". This is where a small flexible tube, inserted into your vagina and up into your womb, is used to suck up a small sample of cells.

In some cases, a hysteroscopy and dilatation and curettage (D&C) may be offered. D&C is a minor surgical procedure carried out under general anaesthetic (while you're asleep), where some tissue from the womb lining (biopsy) is removed. The tissue is then sent off to a laboratory for further testing.

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Further tests if you have womb cancer

If you're diagnosed with womb cancer, you may have further tests to help determine what stage it is.

Staging allows the doctors to work out how large the cancer is, whether it has spread and the best treatment options for you.

These tests may include:

  • a chest X-ray – where radiation is used to check if the cancer has spread to your lungs
  • an MRI scan – where magnetic fields are used to create a detailed image of the inside of your body to check if the cancer has spread
  • a CT scan – where a series of X-rays are used to create a detailed image of the inside of your body to check if the cancer has spread
  • further blood tests – these are usually done to check your general health and how well some of your organs are functioning

See treating womb cancer for more information about staging.

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