New research by healthcare provider Bupa UK reveals that many women mistake the endometrium for another body part – including the intestines, glands or part of the eye. Some even mistake it for a 'geometric shape' or an endoscope – the camera used for internal operations.
More than 9,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with endometrial cancer every year, equating to 25 new cases each day. Reinforcing the low level of awareness, only 39% questioned knew that endometrial cancer affects the womb.
Early diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancer can improve outcomes, with research showing more than nine in 10 women surviving for five years or more if diagnosed at the earliest stage. However, the survival rate falls to three in 20 women when diagnosed at the latest stage.
Bupa’s findings suggest that many women are at risk of missing the signs of endometrial cancer at the earliest stage. A third of women say they wouldn’t see a doctor if they had bleeding outside of their usual menstrual cycle, four in 10 (41%) wouldn’t go to a GP with unusual discharge and a similar number (43%) wouldn’t seek medical help with pelvic pain. Worryingly, one in five women say that they would not visit their doctor if they experienced all three of these symptoms.
Bupa recently introduced its Cancer Direct Access service, the UK’s most comprehensive self-referral cancer service, which aims to improve early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, including endometrial cancer.
Dr. Petra Simic, Clinical Director at Bupa UK, said, “We are now more aware of cancer but some cancers and their symptoms are more well-known than others. Unfortunately, this lack of awareness could mean women don’t always recognise dangerous symptoms of endometrial cancer and risk missing opportunities for early diagnosis.
“We’re highlighting the symptoms of endometrial cancer and the importance of seeking medical advice as that can help to improve outcomes for women diagnosed with the disease.”
Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive, The Eve Appeal, said: “Most people have never heard of endometrial or womb cancer, let alone know that it’s the fourth most common cancer in women and diagnosis is on the rise. Research undertaken by The Eve Appeal continually shows that there is woefully low awareness of both the gynaecological cancers and also of the female reproductive organs that these cancers affect. Early diagnosis means better treatment and prognosis with this cancer – that’s why women need a better body knowledge so that they spot changes and talk to their doctors with confidence about their bodies.”
Dr. Petra Simic, Clinical Director at Bupa UK outlines the key symptoms of endometrial cancer to look out for
For premenopausal women:
- Erratic periods or bleeding between periods*
- Significantly heavier periods, or continuous bleeding
For women who have gone through the menopause:
- Any vaginal bleeding
- New or heavier vaginal discharge
The top five things women mistake the endometrium for:
- Part of the intestines
- Operation where a camera sees inside your body
- The inside of the eye
- A collection of hormone glands
- A geometric shape
About the research
Opinium Research surveyed 2,014 UK adults aged 18+ online between 16 and 20 March 2018 on behalf of Bupa. Results are weighted to be nationally representative.
- When asked “Do you know what the endometrium is?” 686 (67%) of women said no. 686/2014 (overall samples size) x 51,767,000 UK adult population = 17,640,708 adult women in the UK.
- Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women - http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/uterine-cancer#heading-Zero
- More than 9,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with endometrial cancer every year - http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/uterine-cancer#heading-Zero
- Research shows more than nine in 10 women surviving for five years or more if diagnosed at the earliest stage http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/uterine-cancer#heading-Two