The Basics of Uterine Cancer

The Basics of Uterine Cancer (<i>cont'd</i>)

In addition to menopause, other hormonal causes may include thyroid and adrenal gland imbalance. Another cause of excessive bleeding falls under the heading of structural causes, including fibroids, polyps, scar tissue, infection and precancerous conditions.

One more note on abnormal bleeding patterns: if your cycles have become abnormal in any way, contact your health care professional. If you have gone through menopause and are not taking hormones, any uterine bleeding is abnormal. There are a myriad of conditions your health care professional might consider, depending on your symptoms.

Stages of the disease

If you are diagnosed with uterine cancer, you should know that the cure rates for this disease depend on whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. In order to know how far the disease has spread, surgical evaluation is required for evidence of metastasis.

To plan treatment, a health care professional needs to know the stage of the disease. The following stages are used to assess cancer of the endometrium:

  • Stage I: Cancer is found only in the main part of the uterus.
  • Stage II: Cancer cells have spread to the cervix.
  • Stage III: Cancer cells have spread outside the uterus but have not spread outside the pelvis.
  • Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread beyond the pelvis, to other body parts, or into the lining of the bladder (the sac which holds urine) or rectum.
  • Recurrent: Recurrent disease means the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated.

Sarcoma of the Uterus

Sarcoma of the uterus, a very rare kind of cancer in women, is a disease in which cancer cells start growing in the muscles or other supporting tissues of the uterus. Women who have received therapy with high-dose X-rays to their pelvis are at high risk for this disease.

Sarcoma of the uterus usually begins after menopause. The prognosis and choice of treatment depend on the stage of the sarcoma, how fast the cancer cells are growing and the woman's general health. The stages of sarcoma are basically the same as those for uterine cancer.

Copyright 2003 National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC)

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