Scan spots womb cancer

London: A test that can detect womb cancer in women months or even years before any symptoms show up has been developed.

The ultrasound scan can pick up the first signs of tumours in patients who feel perfectly healthy.

A study of 96 women found this method was 80 percent effective in picking up womb cancer before sufferers had any symptoms, such as bleeding, reports the journal Lancet Oncology.

Researchers say the test could soon be used for routine screening of women who are most at risk of developing the illness, according to the Daily Mail.

The specialist ultrasound test, developed by researchers at the University College, London, measures the womb`s thickness and generates an image of it, enabling specialists to look for tumours.

Ian Jacobs of the University College, who led the study, said: "In the future women most at risk, such as those who are obese, have had fewer children, or have high blood pressure, could be recommended for screening."

Theoretically, if cancers are caught early sufferers have a far greater chance of survival as treatment can be given before tumours spread.

The researchers now want to carry out further studies on the test`s effectiveness. Womb cancer usually occurs after the menopause between the ages of 60 and 69.

There are about 6,000 new diagnoses of womb cancer every year in Britain, the majority among women in their 60s and the disease claims about 1,700 lives a year.