Is uterus cancer fatal?
Uterine cancer is not fatal when it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Generally, a 5-year survival rate for patients in stage 1 of uterine cancer is 90%. However, the 5-year survival rate can vary depending on the extent to which the cancer has spread. The 5-year survival rate of cancer confined to the uterus (localized uterine cancer) is 95% whereas for cancer that has spread to nearby organs (regional uterine cancer) and distant organs or tissues (distant uterine cancer) is 69% and 17%, respectively. This has been represented in the table below.
|SEER* stage||The 5-year relative survival rate (%)|
|All SEER stages combined||81|
*SEER: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program
What is uterine cancer?
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer affecting the reproductive system of women. It starts when healthy cells in the uterus grow out of control, forming a mass of tissue or tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign/noncancerous.
Benign conditions of the uterus include
- Benign polyps: Abnormal growths in the lining of the uterus.
- Fibroids: Noncancerous tumors in the muscles of the uterus.
- Endometriosis: A condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus.
- Endometrial hyperplasia: A condition in which there is an overgrowth of the healthy cells of the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
Cancer of the uterus includes
- Adenocarcinoma: This is the most common type of uterine cancer and accounts for 80% of all uterine cancers. It is commonly known as endometrial cancer because it develops from the cells in the endometrium.
- Sarcoma: This type of uterine cancer mainly affects the uterine muscles (myometrium). Sarcoma accounts for about 2% to 4% of cancers. Different types of sarcoma include
- Endometrial stromal sarcoma
- Undifferentiated sarcoma
Who is at risk for getting uterine cancer?
The following factors may increase the risk of uterine cancer
- Age over 50 years
- Obesity: Overweight women produce extra estrogen, a hormone that increases the risk of uterine cancer.
- White women are more likely to develop uterine cancer; however, black women are more likely to develop advanced uterine cancer.
- Genetics: Uterine cancer runs in the family.
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Drugs like Tamoxifen
- Radiation therapy
- Fatty foods
- Estrogen imbalance
What are the signs and symptoms of uterine cancer?
Women with uterine cancer may experience one or all the signs and symptoms or no symptoms at all
What are the treatment options for uterine cancer?
The treatment options depend on the stage and type of uterine cancer. The most common treatment options include
- Surgery: Hysterectomy or removal of the uterus may be either simple (removal of uterus and cervix) or radical (removal of the uterus, cervix, the upper part of the vagina and nearby tissues). Complications of surgery include pain and tenderness.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation of high frequency destroys the cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancerous cells.
Other drug therapies include
- Hormonal therapy
- Targeted therapy
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Uterine CancerThough uterine cancer's cause is unknown, there are many factors that will put a woman at risk, including being over age 50, having endometrial hyperplasia, using hormone replacement therapy, obesity, using tamoxifen, being Caucasian, and/or having colorectal cancer. Symptoms and signs of cancer of the uterus (endometrial cancer) include abnormal vaginal bleeding, painful urination, painful intercourse, and pelvic pain. Treatment depends on staging and may include radiation therapy or hormone therapy.
Uterine Cancer PictureA malignant tumor of the uterus (womb), which occurs most often in women between the ages of 55 and 70. Abnormal bleeding after menopause is the most common symptom. Cancer of the uterus is diagnosed based on the results of a pelvic examination, Pap test, biopsy of the uterus, and/or dilation and curettage (D & C).
Uterine Fibroids (Benign Tumors of the Uterus)Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the womb (uterus). Most uterine fibroids do not cause symptoms; however, if the fibroid is large enough and in the right location, it may cause symptoms of pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and pressure on the bladder or rectum. Uterine fibroids that remain small and do not grow usually do not need treatment; however, surgery to remove the fibroid may be necessary. Uterine fibroids do not cause cancer; however, there is a rare, fast-growing cancerous called leiomyosarcoma.
Women's health is an important topic area to guide a woman through the stages of her life, as well as knowing the conditions and diseases that may occur. Educating yourself so that the transitions into different phases of life is key to a healthy, happy, and productive life.
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