Uterine cancer or sarcoma of the uterus is a very rare kind of cancer in women. It is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells start growing in the muscles or other supporting tissues of the uterus. Sarcoma of the uterus is different from cancer of the endometrium, a disease in which cancer cells grow in the lining of the uterus. Uterine cancer usually occurs after menopause.
Risks factors for uterine sarcoma
- Age greater than 50
- Taking estrogen without the other female hormone progesterone
- Difficulty getting pregnant or having fewer than 5 periods in a year at any time prior to starting menopause
- Use of Tamoxifen a hormone used to treat certain types of breast cancer
- Past treatment of radiation therapy to the pelvis
- Family history of uterine, colon or ovarian cancer
Symptoms of uterine cancer include
- Bleeding that is not part of menstrual periods
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge, especially during or after menopause
- Trouble urinating or frequent urination
- Pelvic pain or pressure, or a mass in the vagina
- Pain during intercourse
Your health care provider may use several tests to determine if you have cancer which usually begin with an internal (pelvic) examination. During the exam, your clinician will feel for any lumps or changes in the size and shape of the uterus. A Pap test (microscopic evaluation of cervical and vaginal cells) will be performed to evaluate the cervix (opening of the uterus) and vagina. Uterine cancer may but does not always show up on a Pap test so other procedures will be done as part of the evaluation. Other tests could include a pelvic ultrasound procedure to check for any abnormalities of the uterus, endometrial sampling or biopsy, or a dilation and curettage (D&C) to check for cancer cells, hysteroscopy, CT Scan and/or MRI.
Treatment of Uterine Cancer
Surgery is the most common treatment for sarcoma of the uterus. Your doctor may perform hysterectomy (removing the uterus) and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removing fallopian tubes and ovaries). Lymph nodes in the pelvis and around the aorta (main vessel in which blood passes away from the heart) may be removed as well. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures found throughout the body that produce and store infection-fighting cells, but may also contain cancer cells.
If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, your physician will work with you and other specialists to determine the best treatment plan for you.