Problems of the Womb 381
Cancer of the womb
(endometrial cancer, cancer of the uterus)
Cancer of the womb usually starts in the lining inside the
womb (the endometrium). If it is not treated it can spread to
the womb itself and to other parts of the body. This cancer
happens most often to women who:
• are over 40 years old, especially if they
have gone through menopause.
• are overweight.
• have diabetes.
• have taken the hormone estrogen
without also taking progesterone.
• heavy monthly bleeding
• irregular monthly bleeding, or bleeding at
unusual times of the month
• bleeding after menopause
IMPORTANT If you have any bleeding at all, even light spotting,
after you have finished menopause (12 months without monthly
bleeding), get checked by a health worker to make sure you do not
Finding and treating cancer of the womb
To find out if a woman has cancer of the womb, a trained
health worker must scrape out the inside of the womb with a
D and C, or do a biopsy, and send the tissue to a laboratory
to be checked for cancer. If cancer is found, it must be treated
as soon as possible with an operation to remove the womb
(hysterectomy). Radiation therapy may also be used.
In a hysterectomy, sometimes only the womb is removed
and sometimes the tubes and ovaries are also removed.
Since your ovaries make hormones that help protect you
against heart disease and weak bones, it is always better to
leave them in, if possible. Talk to a doctor about this.
If cancer of the womb is found early, it can be cured. If it is
more advanced, curing it is more difficult.
IMPORTANT Any woman who is over 40 years old and has
unusual bleeding should get checked by a health worker.
abnormal bleeding, 359
heavy bleeding or
bleeding in the middle of
the month, 129
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012