An ultrasound scan can be used to pick up signs of endometrial (womb) cancer before any symptoms occur, according to a study conducted by scientists at University College London.

For the study, researchers analysed ultrasound scanning findings from more than 37,000 women to identify thickening of the womb lining (endometrium).

The analysis showed that the scans identified a significant difference in womb lining thickness in the 133 women who were diagnosed with womb cancer, or with Atypical Endometrial Hyperplasia (AEH) – a precursor of the cancer.

The average endometrial thickness for these 133 women was found to be 11.5mm, while the average thickness for women not diagnosed with either condition was 3.5mm.

Researchers were able to classify 25% of the screened women as high risk based on factors associated with endometrial cancer, and among the high risk group, nearly 40% of the cases had endometrial cancer or AEH.

The scans were undertaken as part of the UK Collaborative Trial for Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS), which involves more than 200,000 UK women.