Endometrial cancer - Diagnosing uterine (uterus) cancer
NHS Choices Medical Reference
If you have unusual vaginal bleeding, it is likely that your GP will carry out a physical examination of your vagina, and refer you for a blood test in order to rule out a number of conditions, such as infection, that can cause unusual bleeding.
Transvaginal ultrasonography (TVU)
If no obvious cause can be found for your symptoms, you may be referred for a transvaginal ultrasonography (TVU).
A TVU is a type of ultrasound scan that uses a small scanner, in the form of a probe. This is placed directly into the vagina to obtain a detailed picture of the inside of the uterus. The probe can feel a little uncomfortable, but shouldn't be painful.
The TVU checks whether there are any changes to the thickness of the lining of your uterus which could be caused by the presence of cancerous cells.
If the results of the TVU do detect changes in the thickness of the lining of the uterus, a biopsy will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy involves taking a small sample of cells from the uterus. The sample is then checked at a laboratory for the presence of cancerous cells.
The biopsy will be done by inserting a small flexible device (a pipelle) into your vagina and up into your uterus. The pipelle sucks up a small sample of tissue. This method is quick and is usually painless.
Magnetic resonance imaging: MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It is the use of magnets and radio waves to take detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
X-ray: An X-ray is a painless way of producing pictures of the inside of the body using radiation.
Blood: Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Anaesthetic: Anaesthetic is a drug used to either numb a part of the body (local) or to put a patient to sleep (general) during surgery.
Tissue: Body tissue is made up of groups of cells that perform a specific job, such as protecting the body against infection, producing movement or storing fat.
Womb: The uterus (also known as the womb) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman where a baby grows during pregnancy.
Ultrasound scan: Ultrasound scans produce pictures of the inside of the body using soundwaves.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a test that involves taking a small sample of tissue from the body so it can be examined.