Uterine cancer falls under the ‘Gynaecological cancer’ category. It refers to the cancers that begin in the muscle wall or tissue of the uterus (womb) when uterus cells grow out of control. The uterus or womb is a part of the female reproductive system. It is a muscular hollow organ in the pelvis between the bladder and rectum. During the pregnancy, a fetus grows and develops in the uterus.
Metastatic uterine cancer involves the spreading of cancer cells to other organs.
What are the signs & symptoms?
Some symptoms of uterine cancer include vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, or lower abdominal pain.
What are the diagnostic tests for uterine cancer?
CA-125 assay measures CA-125 protein. A certain level of CA-125 indicates cancer in the body.
Transvaginal ultrasound: The doctor inserts a smooth rounded device into the vagina to get images of the uterus.
MRI: The radio waves and strong magnets help make precise images of the affected area. MRI identifies the size of cancer and other tumors in the uterus.
Biopsy: The doctor removes the pieces of the uterus lining with a long, hollow needle to check it for cancer cells.
CT scan: It uses x-rays to create detailed images of the body. A CT scan detects the spread of cancer outside the uterus.
Hysteroscopy: The doctor inserts a tiny telescope or a long thin tube through the vagina and cervix to reach the uterus. It has a light and camera to capture detailed images of the uterus.
Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a complex procedure to remove affected uterine tissue.
PET scan: It detects the cancer spread. The doctor puts a small amount of a low-level radioactive substance into the blood. The substance attaches to the cancer cells. A special camera shows any areas of radioactivity.
How advanced is my uterine cancer?
The doctor identifies the spread of uterine cancer or the stage of cancer and decides the types of treatment required. The stages are based on the cancer growth or cancer spread. Uterine cancer is classified as stages I, II, III, IV.
Stage I: Cancer has no spread except uterus. The stage is categorized into subgroups (IA, IB) to describe cancer in detail.
II: Cancer spread to the cervical stroma.
III: Cancer spread to the pelvic area without any distant metastases. The stage is sub-divided into subgroups (IIIA, IIIB, IIIC1, IIIC2).
IV: Cancer spread to the rectum, bladder, and distant body parts. The stage is sub-divided into smaller groups (IVA, IVB)
Ask your doctor about these tests and what the results might mean.
What are the suitable treatments for me?
Several kinds of treatment are available for breast cancer, including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy.
Surgery helps to cure or control cancer and make symptoms better. It is an obvious choice to cure uterine cancer if not spread outside the uterus. The standard uterine cancer surgeries are total abdominal hysterectomy, vaginal hysterectomy, and radical hysterectomy.
Ask the doctor about the kind of surgery needed and what to expect.
Radiation uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells left in the uterus after surgery. There are two ways to treat uterine cancer using radiation. The first is by aiming the beam at the uterus from a machine outside the body. The second is by putting radioactive pellets, or tiny seeds, into the vagina, bladder, and rectum.
Most side effects may improve after the treatment ends. Ask your doctor about what to expect.
You can take chemo medicines intravenously or orally. The drugs move spread through the body via the blood. Chemo is given in cycles or rounds. Each treatment cycle has a rest time. Chemo works well if cancer has spread outside the uterus.
Targeted therapy drugs are helpful for advanced uterine cancer. These drugs majorly affect cancer cells and rarely normal cells.
The common side effects are fatigue, diarrhea (dysentery), heart, and liver damage. If you experience any side effects, talk to your doctor.
Immunotherapy boosts your immune system to attack the cancer cells. You can administer the drugs intravenously, as a shot, or as pills.
What are the other treatment options?
The other treatment options may or may not be standard medical treatments. These treatments include vitamins, herbs, and diets. Talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
What to expect after treatment?
You are always worried about cancer coming back or a recurrence. After treatment ends, visit your doctor every few months. Keep all follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask you about the symptoms. A physical examination may help to suggest diagnostic tests to chec You may have fear of cancer recurrence. Visit your doctor every three months after the treatment ends. Do not skip follow-up visits. Your doctors will ask you about new symptoms. A physical examination and diagnostic tests may help to check recurrence.
For the first year, the follow-up visits may be every three months. After the first year, follow-up visits might be every six months, and then at once a year after five years.
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