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The womb and womb cancer

The womb (uterus) is a pear-shaped organ where a baby is carried during pregnancy. It is low in the pelvis (the area between the hips) and is supported by the pelvic floor muscles.

The womb is made up of 3 layers:

  • an outer protective layer
  • a middle muscular layer, called the myometrium
  • an inner layer, called the lining of the womb or endometrium.
The womb and reproductive organs
The womb and reproductive organs

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The ovaries are on either side of the womb. They make eggs and the female hormone oestrogen. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the womb.

The lower part of the womb connects to the top of the vagina. This is called the cervix or the neck of the womb. Cancers that start in the cervix behave differently and are treated differently from womb cancer.

In the UK, about 9,200 women are diagnosed with womb cancer each year. Womb cancer is rare in women under 40 and becomes more common after the age of 55.

Endometrial cancers

Most womb cancers start in glandular cells found in the lining of the womb (the endometrium). They are called endometrial cancers. They are usually diagnosed early and treated successfully. The information on these womb cancer pages is about endometrial cancers.

Other types of womb cancer

Some cancers start in the supporting tissues of the womb or in the muscle layer of the womb (the myometrium). These are called soft tissue sarcomas. The most common type of sarcoma of the womb is leiomyosarcoma.

Back to Understanding womb cancer

What is cancer?

Cancer develops when the normal workings of a cell go wrong and the cell becomes abnormal.

The womb

The womb (uterus) is a muscular, pear-shaped organ where a baby is carried during pregnancy.

Symptoms of womb cancer

Find information about the symptoms of womb cancer and when you should go and see your GP.

Cancer and cell types

Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.