#WombWednesday: From signs and symptoms, to diagnosis and treatment – a step-by-step guide

September is Gynae Cancer Awareness Month where we want to raise much-needed awareness of the five gynaecological cancers. However, every Wednesday throughout September we will be profiling a different issue around uterine (or womb) cancer in the form of #WombWednesday.

In the first part of our mini-series, Nishita Lal, who is a final year medical student at the University of Bristol with a keen interest in women's health, shares with us a podcast she created to give an overview of uterine cancer from signs and symptoms, to diagnosis and treatment.

Please read and listen below to find out more.

Introduction

Uterine cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women in the UK; with over 9,300 women being diagnosed every year. Despite the good prognosis, the diagnosis can be overwhelming and journey to recovery can appear daunting.

The aim of this podcast is to guide you, step by step, through the patient’s journey of uterine cancer, but perhaps more importantly: to remind you that you are not alone. A section of the podcast is dedicated towards Ann’s story. Ann is a lady who has undergone successful treatment for uterine cancer, and has kindly agreed to share her powerful story with you.

Women who have listened to this podcast before found that they all felt more confident in spotting the symptoms of uterine cancer after listening to the podcast – so why not have a listen for yourself?

Signs and symptoms / When visiting the GP

What should I look out for?

The main symptom of uterine cancer is unusual vaginal bleeding, usually occurring after the menopause. This is known as ‘post-menopausal bleeding’, and it is often ignored by women.

In the next chapter of the podcast,Tracie Miles, a nurse specialist in gynaecology, walks us through how important it is to never ignore unusual vaginal bleeding. Some women find it awkward or embarrassing to visit their doctors regarding unusual vaginal bleeding. Press play below, and listen as Tracie explains how best to approach this if you are worried, and which examinations your doctor may want to do.

Tests, scans and meetings

After being referred to hospital by your GP, you may feel like you are in the middle of a whirlwind of different tests and scans.

Here, in the next chapter, Nick Johnson, a consultant in gynaecology oncology, and Tracie Miles clarify what happens after a GP referral. This includes details about vaginal scans, tissue samples and meetings undertaken by the cancer care team.

Discussing treatment

Although surgery is the mainstay of uterine cancer treatment in the UK, occasionally a woman may need some other therapy (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) as well as or instead of surgery.

In this chapter, we are taken through the different types of surgery and other treatments by Mr Johnson and Tracie. For those who are anxious about the prospect of surgery, we have included information about the practicalities of coming into hospital for surgery, and what to expect immediately after the procedure.

Post treatment follow-up

After undergoing treatment, different women will be followed up for different amounts of time. In this chapter, Tracie explains how this works, and new developments in this area being rolled out in some parts of the country.

Ann's story

Being diagnosed with cancer can feel isolating. No one knows this better than someone who has been through it all – like Ann.

In this final chapter of the podcast, Ann shares her experience of uterine cancer. She not only discusses the medical aspect of the diagnosis and treatment, but speaks candidly about how it affected her relationships, and how it has changed her outlook on life.

Thank you for listening to this Eve Appeal podcast. A part of creating this podcast involved talking to many inspirational women, including Ann, about their experiences and opinions regarding women’s health. This was both a joy and a privilege, and I was moved by their generosity and resilience. Thank you to all of you.

By now, we hope you feel more well-informed about uterine cancer. If you have any questions, please contact The Eve Appeal’s Ask Eve information service on 0808 802 0019 – which is free to call from landlines and mobile phones – or get in touch via email nurse@eveappeal.org.uk