The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Your Condition & Treatment


Your Referral

If you have been referred by your GP to our service then you may have lots of questions to ask about what will happen to you. We hope this page will help. If you also want to check the internet there is plenty of information there, but please be careful, it can be difficult to find accurate factual information. We recommend the MacMillan organisation as a reliable and accurate place to start.

Cancer of The Womb (Uterus)

Cancer of the womb (uterus) affects about 8,400 women in the UK every year. It is the fourth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, lung cancer and bowel cancer. It is also called uterine cancer and endometrial cancer. It is more common in women who have been through the menopause and most cases are diagnosed in women aged over 50.

Abnormal bleeding is the most common symptom. If you have been through the menopause, any vaginal bleeding is considered to be abnormal. If you have not yet been through the menopause, unusual bleeding may include bleeding between your periods or bleeding after sex.

The most common treatment is an operation to remove the womb (hysterectomy). It often includes the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Surgery could be laparoscopic (keyhole) for an early cancer or open surgery with either a midline incision (‘up and down’ cut) or a ‘bikini-line’ incision.

A hysterectomy can cure womb cancer in its early stages but you will no longer be able to get pregnant. For more advanced cancers, radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also be used as well as surgery.

A type of hormone treatment can sometimes be used if you are yet to go through the menopause and would still like children. This treatment is only for women with an early stage cancer.

You can read more information in the leaflet: Surgery for Endometrial Cancer (533 KB)

Cancer of the ovary

Cancer of the ovary affects more than 7,000 women in the UK each year. It is the fifth most common cancer amongst women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the womb (uterus). It is more common in women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50) but it can affect women of any age.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be similar to those of other conditions making it difficult to recognise. Early symptoms can be:

  • Persistent bloating
  • Pain in the pelvis and lower stomach
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly.

Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight loss, back pain, pain in the lower abdomen when having sex, passing urine frequently, change in bowel habit such as constipation or diarrhoea and swelling of the abdomen.

An operation is advised in most cases. If the cancer is at a very early stage (just confined to the ovary and not spread) then an operation to remove the affected ovary and associated fallopian tube may be all that is required. Unfortunately, in many cases, the cancer has spread and a more extensive operation is needed. The operation usually involves the removal of both ovaries, womb (uterus), fallopian tubes, lymph nodes and omentum (fatty apron-like tissue in the upper abdomen). This is carried out through a midline incision (‘up and down’ cut).

Treatment often includes chemotherapy after surgery and sometimes before surgery as well.

You can read more information in the leaflet: Surgery for Ovarian Mass/Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (553 KB)

Cancer of the peritoneum

Primary peritoneal cancer (PPC) is a rare cancer that starts in the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a layer of thin tissue that lines the abdomen and covers all the organs within it such as the bowels and the liver. PPC is very similar to the most common type of ovarian cancer. There are no exact numbers for how many people have it in the UK but research suggests that between 7 and 15 out of 100 women who have an advanced ovarian cancer will actually have PPC. Most People are over the age of 60 when they are diagnosed.

Symptoms for PPC can be very unclear and difficult to spot and most women don’t have symptoms for a long time. When symptoms do occur they may include any of the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling bloated
  • Swollen abdomen (tummy) due to a build-up of fluid known as ascites.
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

Treatment for PPC is usually a combination of surgery and chemotherapy or just chemotherapy on its own. Surgery usually involves the removal of both ovaries, womb (uterus), fallopian tubes, lymph nodes and omentum (fatty apron-like tissue in the upper abdomen. Surgery may also include removing part of the bowel if the cancer has spread there. The surgery is carried out through a midline incision (‘up and down’ cut).

You can read more information in the leaflet: Surgery for Ovarian Mass/Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma (553 KB)

Cancer of the cervix

Cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix) is an uncommon type of cancer that affects around 3,000 women in the UK every year. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer although it mainly affects women in their 30s or 40s. It is very rare in women under 25. Regular cervical screening (smear tests) can detect pre-cancer which can be treated before cancer develops. If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage then there is a good chance of a cure.

The common early symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding such as:

  • Bleeding between normal periods (intermenstrual bleeding)
  • Bleeding after having sex (post coital bleeding)
  • Any vaginal bleeding in women that have been through the menopause.
  • Other symptoms can be vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant or discomfort/pain during sex.

The most common treatment is a radical hysterectomy. This involves removing the womb (uterus), cervix, tissue around the cervix (parametrial tissue), fallopian tubes, the upper part of the vagina, pelvic lymph nodes and sometimes the ovaries. Surgery could be laparoscopic (keyhole) or open surgery with either a midline incision (‘up and down’ cut) or a ‘bikini-line’ incision.

A treatment for early stage cervical cancer can be a trachelectomy which is an operation that preserves fertility for women who still wish to have children. The operation involves the removal of the cervix, tissue around the cervix (parametrial tissue) and a small section of the upper part of the vagina. The womb (uterus), ovaries and fallopian tubes are left in place.

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy is sometimes used along with surgery. Radiotherapy can sometimes be used as an alternative to surgery for early stage cervical cancer.

You can read more about cervical cancer treatments in these leaflets: Surgery for Cervical Cancer - Trachelectomy (479 KB) and Surgery for Cervical Cancer - Radical Hysterectomy (Wertheims) (427 KB)

Cancer of the vulva

Cancer of the vulva is a rare type of cancer with less than 1,200 new patients being diagnosed every year in the UK.

The vulva is a woman’s external genitalia and is made up of the skin and fatty tissue that surrounds the clitoris and opening of the vagina and urethra. The fatty tissue is made up of two folds, called the labia majora and labia minora. Cancer of the vulva occurs most often in or on the labia.

Vulval cancer mainly affects women who are over the age of 60, but the number of younger women who are affected is increasing.

Symptoms of vulval cancer include:

  • Vulval lump
  • Persistent itch in the vulva
  • Bleeding from the vulva or passing blood stained discharge
  • Pain and discomfort in your vulva
  • Pain when passing urine
  • A mole on your vulva that changes shape or colour
  • Raised and thickened patches of skin that can be red, white or black

Surgery is the main treatment for cancer of the vulva. Many women are cured of their cancer with surgery. It may be used alone or in a combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Your treatment will depend on factors such as the size and type of your cancer and your general health.

You can read more information in the leaflet: Vulval Surgery (600 KB)