A group of British doctors have developed a ultrasound scan that can identify womb cancer in women even before the symptoms could appear.
The ultrasound scan, which could soon be used for routine screening of women who are most at risk of developing the illness, can pick up the first signs of tumours in patients who feel perfectly healthy.
University College researchers, London, proposed the specialist ultrasound test, which measures the womb's thickness and generates an image of it, enabling specialists to look for tumours.
A study of 96 women found this method was 80 per cent effective in picking up womb cancer before sufferers had any -symptoms, such as bleeding.
Womb cancer usually occurs after the menopause between the ages of 60 and 69. Women are more at risk when there are higher amounts of oestrogen in their blood.
Levels of the hormone are lower during pregnancy, so women who have fewer children are exposed to the chemical for a longer period of time.
Those who are overweight also have much higher levels, as fatty tissue converts other hormones into oestrogen.
'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," the Daily Mail quoted Ian Jacobs, who led the study, as saying.
Kate Law, Director of Clinical Research at Cancer Research UK, which funded the trial, said: "These results show that ultrasound could also be used to help doctors identify women at greater risk of developing womb cancer.'
The study has been published in the Lancet Oncology.