Uterus Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Uterine Cancer - Medical Malpractice

Uterine cancer is also referred to as endometrial cancer, mostly because cancer of the uterus begins in the inner lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. There are other causes of uterine cancer beginning in the muscle of the uterus, but these are much rarer. The most common uterine cancer is endometrial cancer. The exact reason behind who gets this type of cancer and who does not isn't completely clear but it appears to be related to oestrogen. Women who have never had children are more likely to get endometrial cancer, in part because they have had more menstrual cycles than women who have had children. High levels of unopposed oestrogen play a role in getting this type of cancer.

Uterine cancer usually occurs in women who are aged 60 to 70 years although some women get it under the age of 40 if they have a strong family history of having the disease. Your risk of getting endometrial cancer increase if you have diabetes, are on oestrogen replacement therapy (especially with unopposed oestrogen), have endometrial polyps, are on Tamoxifen, have infrequent periods, have never been pregnant, are infertile, have polycystic ovarian syndrome, are obese, have early menstruation or late menopause. Related conditions include having gallbladder disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, PCOS and high blood pressure.

The major symptoms of uterine cancer include unusual uterine bleeding or abnormal periods. Bleeding can occur between periods or following menopause. Vaginal bleeding or spotting after menopause are signs of endometrial cancer. If you have heavy periods that are very long, you could have a polyp in the uterus that is tending toward uterine cancer. If you have clear or white vaginal discharge after menopause, you could have uterine cancer and severe cancer can lead to pelvic cramping or lower abdominal pain.

Uterine cancer is diagnosed by having a complete history and physical examination by a gynaecologist. Some tests done include an endometrial aspiration, an endometrial biopsy and a pelvic exam. Sometimes the doctor does a more thorough test for endometrial cancer by performing a dilatation and curettage of the uterus (a D and C). Pap smears can sometimes suggest abnormalities of the uterus but are poor tests to use alone for diagnosing uterine cancer.

If the cancer is found in the uterus, an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI can be done to see if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other areas in the pelvis or abdomen. Stage I cancer is only within the uterus. Stage II cancer means the cancer has spread outside of the uterus but not outside of the pelvis. Lymph nodes near the uterus might be involved. Those lymph nodes can be near the aorta or elsewhere in the groin or pelvis. Stage III cancer involves uterine cancer that has spread to the bladder, elsewhere in the abdomen, in the bowel or in other organs. Uterine cancer is also graded according to the aggressiveness of the cancer cells. It is graded either grade I, II or III and grade III is considered the most aggressive type of uterine cancer.

The treatment of uterine cancer involves surgery, usually in the form of a complete hysterectomy which includes removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Radiation therapy can be used in higher stage cancers as can chemotherapy. Uterine cancer is extremely curable in its early stages, especially when the cancer has not spread beyond the uterus.

Most surgeries to remove uterine cancer are done using an abdominal approach as opposed to a vaginal approach. This allows the doctor to sample lymph nodes and to look at the cancer that might be in other body areas near the uterus and ovaries. Radiation tends to work better than chemotherapy in this type of cancer.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here