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Cancer of the Endometrium

A close-up photograph of  some of the equipment in the Stour Centre.

The uterus (womb)
The uterus is the size and shape of a small pear. It is a hollow, muscular organ lying between the bladder, the rectum and the top of the vagina. The inner layer of the uterus is called the endometrium. This layer is shed each month as a ‘period’. Periods continue until the menopause. The endometrium is sensitive to hormones (chemical messengers) circulating in the blood stream. The growth of the endometrium and the shedding of it (period) are controlled by two hormones: oestrogen and progesterone. Cancer of the uterus can start in the endometrium.

The lymph glands
Near to the uterus is a group of glands called lymph glands or nodes. These are part of the lymphatic system, which carries colourless fluid around the body. The lymph glands act as filters, filtering out bacteria and debris.

Cancer of the uterus
Cancer of the uterus can start in the endometrial lining, its exact cause is not known. It is more common in women between the ages of 50 and 64. An early symptom of cancer of the uterus is abnormal bleeding. This can be between periods or heavier bleeding before the menopause or bleeding after the menopause.

What types of treatment are used?
Surgery and radiotherapy given alone or together are the main ways of treating cancer of the uterus

The surgical treatment of cancer of the uterus involves the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy). In many cases, the surgeon will also remove the ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Sometimes surgery is all that is needed to remove the cancer.

External radiotherapy treats cancer by using high energy X-rays which destroy the cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. It is usually given to the pelvis area.
Internal radiotherapy is delivered by placing tubes inside the vagina and the uterus (womb) concentrating the radiation in the place it is needed.

Cancer of the uterus is often sensitive to hormones such as progesterone.