Screening for womb cancer

At the moment there is no screening for womb cancer. This is because there is no test that is accurate and reliable enough to detect womb cancer in the general population.

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

There is a cervical screening programme that aims to prevent cancer. It tests for a virus called human papilloma virus or HPV. This can cause changes to the cells of the cervix which could become cancer if left. 

What to do if you think you're at risk

Talk to your GP if you think you are at higher than average risk of womb cancer.

Screening for women at a higher risk of womb cancer

Some women from families with a history of certain cancers are known to be at higher risk of womb cancer. These are known as Lynch syndrome (or HNPCC) families. 

There are different opinions about how to monitor families with Lynch syndrome. Some doctors suggest that women have a sample of tissue from the lining of the womb tested. This is called a biopsy. You can have this in different ways one is a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscope is a thin telescope that allows doctors to look into the womb and take samples of tissue. They say these should start from the age of 35 to 40 years.

Other doctors may only investigate when a woman has symptoms. At this time there is no single accepted way of screening for womb cancer in these families. So you may have screening as part of a research study. 

If you have Lynch syndrome your doctor might offer you surgery once you have had your family. The surgery involves removing your womb and ovaries and reduces the risk of cancer. 

Last reviewed: 
23 Jan 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2024
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    N Columbo and others (2016) 

    Annals of Oncology 27: 16–41

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