What is advanced womb cancer?

Advanced womb cancer means the cancer has spread from where it started in the womb to another body area further away such as the lungs.

Sometimes cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or the cancer has come back and spread after treatment for the original cancer.

Cancers that have spread to another part of the body are called:

  • secondary cancer
  • metastases
  • metastatic cancer

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. But treatment might control it, help symptoms, and improve your quality of life for some time.

Where womb cancer can spread

Womb cancer can spread from where it started in the womb to other organs further away in the body. Some of the womb cancer cells may have travelled through the lymphatic system Open a glossary item or bloodstream and lodged in another part of the body. They have then started to grow there.

Womb cancer most often spreads to the:

  • lungs
  • bones
  • liver
  • brain
  • omentum Open a glossary item
  • peritoneum Open a glossary item

There is treatment available if your womb cancer can't be cured. This treatment might not get rid of the cancer altogether, but it might be able to shrink it, slow down the growth and control your symptoms.

Sometimes the cancer keeps coming back in the pelvis Open a glossary item or tummy (abdomen) despite all the treatment you have had. This is called recurrent cancer.

Locally advanced womb cancer

Locally advanced womb cancer means the cancer has spread outside the womb, but is still within the pelvis Open a glossary item. This is usually stage 3 to 4A womb cancer. The cancer hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other organs further away.

Symptoms of advanced womb cancer

Symptoms of advanced cancer may include:

  • tummy (abdominal) pain

  • a swollen tummy

  • bloating

  • a change in bowel or bladder habits

  • a new cough

If you have any of these symptoms, you must get them checked by your GP. But remember, they can all be caused by other conditions. Most people with these symptoms don’t have womb cancer.

How you might feel

Finding out that you can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. Some people find it helpful to find out more about their cancer and the treatments they might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means

    • what is likely to happen

    • what treatment is available

    • how treatment can help you

    • what the side effects of the treatment are


    Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

    You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

    For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

    • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
      J Tobias and D Hochhauser
      Blackwell, 2015

    • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (12th edition)

      VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg

      Wolters Kluwer, 2023

    • British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS) uterine cancer guidelines: recommendations for practice
      J Morrison and others
      European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, March 2022. Volume 270, Pages 50 to 89

    Last reviewed: 
    22 Apr 2024
    Next review due: 
    22 Apr 2027

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