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How Uterine Cancer Is Treated
Uterine cancer is a cancerous disease that starts in the cells of the uterus. Being malignant, it is both invasive and fast-growing. As cancer spreads, it not only destroys nearby tissue, but it can also metastasize. When that happens, it affects other parts of the female body.
It is important for women to understand that sometimes when cells in the uterus change, they are only precancerous. That means they are abnormal but not cancerous. Regular checkups can help detect any abnormal growth. If caught early enough, an OBGYN can take action to prevent anything from progressing.
Types of uterine cancer
There are three primary types of this cancer. First, endometrial carcinoma is the most common. This begins in the cells found in the lining of the uterus. Second, uterine carcinoma develops in the tissue that supports the lining. This includes muscle, fibrous tissue, bone, and fat.
Third, carcinosarcoma develops in the uterus. In that case, it has both carcinoma and sarcoma features. Rarer forms of uterine cancer also exist. One of these is gestational trophoblastic disease or GTD.
Women with increased risk
Many women are not aware of their risks when it comes to developing uterine cancer. Having an open conversation with the attending doctor can increase a woman’s awareness. Knowing one’s risk for this condition may help improve one’s health. The following factors may increase a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Endometrial hyperplasia
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Never having given birth
- Genetics (mother, sister, or daughter with uterine cancer)
- Specific gene linked to Lynch syndrome
Women who suspect they might have uterine cancer should visit an OBGYN. The doctor will perform a physical examination. Running the appropriate tests to confirm the disease will follow. From there, the healthcare provider will recommend the right treatment. These are the known treatments for uterine cancer:
For uterine cancer, especially endometrial carcinoma, surgery is typically the treatment doctors prefer. Depending on the exact type and stage of the disease, this can be one of many different operations. A total hysterectomy that involves the removal of the uterus and cervix is one. A radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina. Regardless, the goal is to remove all of the cancer. If some remains, most patients undergo hormone treatment or radiation therapy following the operation.
2. Radiation therapy
This treatment option consists of using high-energy X-rays or some other type of radiation as a way of killing the uterine cancer cells. The OBGYN will determine if a patient needs external or internal radiation therapy. The external approach involves a machine used on the outside of the body. The internal method entails a surgeon placing radioactive material enclosed in wires, catheter, or needles inside or close to the cancer.
Chemotherapy is also used for treating uterine cancer. This entails using a powerful drug to prevent cancerous cells from growing. It can also kill existing cells or keep them from dividing. Whether oral or injected, systemic chemotherapy involves drugs going into the patient’s bloodstream to target cancer cells anywhere in the body. Regional chemotherapy entails focusing on cancer cells in a specific area.
4. Hormone therapy
This therapy works by either removing hormones or blocking them from performing actions to prevent the cells from growing. Hormone therapy for this type of cancer involves the use of high-dose progesterone in the form of pills. Other types of this therapy include aromatase inhibitors and intrauterine devices. This therapy is also applicable for patients who cannot have radiation therapy or surgery. Side effects are often manageable. These include sleeplessness, weight gain, and muscle pain.
5. Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy helps pinpoint and destroy uterine cancer cells without damaging healthy ones. It uses medications to do this. Doctors can use this therapy on its own or with other treatments. Targeted therapy can combine with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery.
This organic type of therapy uses the body’s defenses to battle cancer. It enhances the immune system to fight off cancer cells. The body’s immune system has tissues of the lymph system, white blood cells, and organs that act like soldiers. The immune system targets and eliminates abnormal cells that prevent cancer growth. TILS or tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes indicate the active function of the body’s immunity. These lymphocytes surround the cancer cells.
Talk to a doctor
Uterine cancer can be fatal in women if it does not receive proper and early treatment. Seeing the doctor for regular checkups may lead to the early detection of the cancer cells. This could start the early treatments as well. Whether you have specific concerns or you want a screening as part of your annual checkup, talk to your OBGYN about testing for uterine cancer.
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