Uterine Cancer Treatments
Also known as ‘uterine cancer’, uterine sarcoma is a dreadful health condition that appears when abnormal tissues grow, multiply and penetrate in the muscles of uterus or womb. These cancerous cells may adversely affect entire uterus and spread to other body parts as well. Patients suffering from uterine sarcoma may die if they fail to take appropriate measures within time. Therefore, patients should consult an experienced doctor in shortest time possible for precise diagnosis and treatment of uterine sarcoma. It will surely help in speedy recovery as well as improve their quality of life.
Types of Uterine Sarcoma
Uterine sarcomas can be differentiated depending on the specific category of abnormal cells in uterus. The following points give out the main types of uterine sarcoma.
- Endometrial Stromal Sarcomas – This type of uterine cancer begins to grow when connective tissues present in stroma, which is a part of endometrium become malignant or cancerous in nature. Such type of uterine sarcomas are not so aggressive and they tend to spread at a slow pace.
- Uterine Leiomyosarcomas – This is the most common type of uterine cancer that develops due to abnormal cell production in muscular region of uterus which is clinically referred to as myometrium.
- Undifferentiated Sarcomas – Such type of uterine cancer can be considered similar to endometrial stromal sarcomas. The difference is that these sarcomas tend to grow fast and are highly aggressive in nature. They may lead to disabling conditions if not treated early.
Causes and Risk Factors for Uterine Sarcoma
Principal cause behind occurrence of uterine sarcoma is not known yet. Various healthcare studies are still being conducted for detecting the root cause that leads to uterine cancer. The given list describes some major risk factors associated with uterine sarcoma.
- Past Radiation Therapy – Women who had undergone radiation therapy in the past due to any medical reasons are at a higher risk of developing uterine sarcoma in future.
- Breast Cancer Treatment – Women who have had breast cancer and consume tamoxifen during the treatment have a greater likelihood of developing uterine sarcoma.
- Faulty Genes – Genetic abnormality may also increase the risks of getting uterine sarcoma. For example, faulty gene that leads to cancer of eyes can give rise to uterine cancer as well.
- No Pregnancy – Women who never experienced motherhood are more prone to getting uterine cancer as compared to women who have undergone pregnancy.
Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Sarcoma
The below-mentioned points elaborate major signs and symptoms of uterine sarcoma. Patients struggling with such warning signals must visit qualified doctors for right diagnosis.
- Abnormal Bleeding – Abnormal bleeding from vagina without any particular reason is a clear indication of uterine cancer. Women who encounter bleeding which is not inter-related to periods should meet a doctor for figuring out the health condition.
- Lump in Vaginal Area – Women experiencing an unusual lump in the vaginal region should not take it lightly and consider seeking medical assistance.
- Abdominal Pain – Persistent and intense pain in abdominal area that does not go away even with medicines could be a potential sign of uterine cancer.
- Frequent Urination – Frequent and painful urination is the most common symptom associated with uterine sarcoma.
- Bloating – Bloating and feeling of fullness after eating may be a warning sign of uterine sarcoma.
Diagnosing Uterine Sarcoma
Patients experiencing abnormal symptoms should start searching for a well-experienced doctor in order to get best results after completion of their uterine sarcoma treatment. During medical consultation, respective cancer specialists may ask patients to reveal their symptoms as well as medical history. In addition to this, they may request them to tell the names of medications that they take on a regular basis. Patients must honestly give all the necessary details for maintaining a high degree of accuracy. Doctors may order the given medical examination tests for confirming the diagnosis.
- Pelvic Examination – Respective doctors may perform a Pap test of cervix for identification of underlying abnormalities. They may use a medical instrument called as ‘speculum’ that has lens at one end. Patients are asked to lie in a comfortable position. After that, doctors cautiously insert this tube-shaped instrument in patient’s vagina in order to view abnormalities in cervix, vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
- Endometrial Biopsy Test – Endometrial biopsy test involves taking a specimen of cells from upper lining of patient’s uterus or endometrium. Patients are asked to stay in a comfortable position while doctors remove the tissues. Doctors carefully analyze these tissues in a laboratory in order to check out exact problem.
- Dilation and Curettage – Dilation and curettage test (D and C) is performed when biopsy does not give satisfactory outcomes. Respective oncologists insert a spoon-like medical tool in patient’s vagina for reaching the desired location. They carefully take out tissues and thoroughly evaluate it under a sophisticated microscope for checking the abnormality.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound Test – During a transvaginal ultrasound test, doctors ask patients to rest in comfort. After that, they insert a medical tool called as a probe in patient’s vaginal canal. This probe is interconnected to a device that helps in capturing precise and high-resolution images of patient’s vagina, uterus, and complete internal region with the help of soundwaves. The obtained images help doctors to check every internal detail and confirm the diagnosis. Respective doctors may also order tests such as computed tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan test for detecting presence of uterine sarcoma.
Treatment will be based on results of diagnostic tests, extent of spread of uterine sarcoma and patient’s overall health.
Stages of Uterine Sarcoma
The given list depicts the four major stages of uterine sarcoma. Severity of this sarcoma increases with advancing stages. Stage 4 is the most life-threatening stage. Chances of survival of uterine sarcoma patients in this stage are extremely less.
- Stage 1 – This is a developmental stage of uterine sarcoma. It occurs when abnormal cells start to grow in patient’s uterus region. Chances of survival of uterine sarcoma patients in this stage are maximum.
- Stage 2 – This stage appears when harmful cancerous cells start to spread across the entire uterus and cervix as well.
- Stage 3 – This is a comparatively advanced stage of uterine sarcoma. It may spread beyond patient’s uterus and affect complete pelvic area.
- Stage 4 – Stage 4 is the end-stage of uterine sarcoma. It emerges when cancer spreads across different organs of patient’s body such as bladder and abdomen and stomach.
Treatment Options for Uterine Sarcoma
The following are some of the major treatment options for uterine sarcoma. Uterine sarcoma treatment cost may differ according to the type of treatment and patient’s general health status.
- Surgery for Uterine Sarcoma – Uterine sarcoma surgery can be performed for patients suffering from early stages of cancer mainly from stage 1 and 2. Doctors give general anesthesia to patients before beginning the operation. It minimizes the uneasiness or pain during surgery. At first, respective oncologists perform laparotomy procedure which involves making incisions in abdominal area of patients to see if cancerous cells have reached beyond uterus. Doctors may also remove a specimen of tissues from lymph nodes for understanding exact situation. If cancer has not spread beyond uterus and cervix, doctors may only remove patient’s uterus and cervix and this procedure is medically termed as ‘total hysterectomy’. Whereas, if cancerous cells have affected ovaries and fallopian tubes also, doctors may remove them surgically and such procedure is called as ‘bilateral salpingo oophorectomy’. In some cases, doctors may perform surgery for advanced stages in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy. Once the surgery for uterine sarcoma is completed, doctors monitor patients for a couple of hours in order to reduce postoperative complications.
- Chemotherapy for Uterine Sarcoma – Chemotherapy for uterine sarcoma is mainly used for treating advanced stages of uterine sarcoma. This procedure involves certain anticancer drugs which are popularly called as ‘chemo’ drugs. These drugs can effectively wipe out harmful and undesired cancerous cells present in uterus as well as surrounding areas. Doctors give a strong dosage of chemo medicines to patients either in an oral manner or by injecting it via their veins to serve the purpose.
- Radiation Therapy for Uterine Sarcoma – Radiation therapy for uterine sarcoma can be given in early as well as later stages of uterine sarcoma either alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy for uterine sarcoma involves use of a sharp and highly focused beam of radiation like x-rays or protons for killing the cancerous cells present in patient’s uterus and nearby region. Doctors take patients to a specialized medical room where a huge scanner-like device is present. This device emits required radiation for destroying abnormal uterine cells. This procedure can be repeated often times for stopping the growth and spread of cancerous cells in patient’s body.
- Hormone Therapy for Uterine Sarcoma – Hormone therapy for uterine sarcoma is mainly given to patients suffering from stage 3 and stage 4. Hormone therapy can suppress the growth of undesired hormones or boost the production of required hormones. For example, high estrogen hormones may help cancer cells to spread. Whereas, progesterone hormones can help lower down the activity of uterine cancer cells by destroying them. Therefore, respective oncologists provide essential drugs or medicines to patients that serve the purpose of appropriate hormone production.
Risks and Complications Associated with Uterine Sarcoma Treatment
The following points depict risks and complications associated with different types of uterine sarcoma treatment.
- Uterine Sarcoma Surgery – Heavy bleeding, pain, bladder or bowel damage, serious infection, and clotting of blood are major complications associated with uterine sarcoma surgery.
- Uterine Sarcoma Chemotherapy – Uterine sarcoma chemotherapy involves complications such as persistent nausea or vomiting sensation, loss of appetite, severe hair loss, low blood count or extreme tiredness.
- Uterine Sarcoma Radiation Therapy – Fatigue, diarrhea, irritation in bladder region, severe swelling in legs, and nausea are the most commonly observed complications of uterine sarcoma radiation therapy.
- Uterine Sarcoma Hormone Therapy – Vaginal dryness, increased blood sugar levels, weight gain, and night sweats are the main complications associated with uterine sarcoma hormone therapy.
Recovery Following Uterine Sarcoma Treatment
Healing or recovery time of patients is mainly dependent on the stage of uterine sarcoma, particular type of treatment used by respective oncologists, and general health of patients. In general, doctors may ask patients to eat healthy foods and completely avoid processed and unhealthy foods. They may also ask patients to avoid smoking during postoperative period as it may degrade their health and delay their recovery. In addition to this, doctors may refer patients to medical psychologists or counseling experts for enhancing their self-esteem and mental strength. Patients should not forget to visit doctors at frequent intervals of time for ensuring a smooth and steady recovery.
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