Cancer of the uterus may include endometrial cancer and the rare uterine sarcomas. The lining of your uterus is known as the endometrium, and hence uterine cancer is often known as endometrial cancer.
Uterine sarcomas occur rarely, making a percent of the various gynecologic cancers and lesser than 5% of uterine cancer.
Uterine sarcomas are an aggressive form of cancer and patients have a less than 50% chance of survival, even if the diagnosis is early.
In endometrial cancer, symptoms include post menopausal abnormal bleeding and can be diagnosed early. While the survival rates are high, success of the treatment rests on the phase of the cancer.
Cancer of the uterus – Different stages
Uterine cancer has 4 stages – I, II, III, IV, and can at times be recurring. Hence, even after successful treatment, the cancer may return. The highest success rate depends on how early the cancer is treated. If the prognosis is made at a developed stage, the condition of the patient may worsen.
The stages of cancer of the uterus are used to denote whether and the extent of the spread of the disease.
This helps in understanding the extensive nature of the condition and chances of a full recovery. If it is the first stage, the chances of survival are high. However, this hardly means that women in the later stages have slim survival rates. The diagnosis of the disease may depend on the unique health condition of the patient and how responsive her body is to treatment.
- Stage I: Here, the cancer is limited to areas of the uterus. It has 3 stages: IA, IB, and IC. In IA, the malignancy lies in the uterine lining or endometrium. In IB, the cancer has shifted to the uterine muscles or myometrium from the endometrium. In IC, the cancer moves beyond the muscular layer.
- Stage II: This stage of uterine cancer happens when the malignancy expands as far as the cervical, or the neck region of the womb. The cervical region offers a channel between the vagina and the womb. This stage has 2 parts: IIA and IIB. In IIA, the cancer affects the glands of the cervical region, while in IIB the cancer spreads to the connective tissue of the cervix.
- Stage III: In this stage of cancer of the uterus, the malignity moves beyond the cervical region, although it is still restricted to the pelvic region of the patient. This has 3 sub categories: IIIA, IIIB and IIIC. In IIIA, the cancer affects the external branch of the uterus, tissues outside it, and the peritoneum membrane bordering the abdominal and pelvic cavities or any of these. In IIIB, the cancer spreads to the vagina. In IIIC, the lymph nodes are also affected.
- Stage IV: In the final stage, the cancer has migrated beyond the pelvis. It has 2 stages: IVA and IVB. In IVA, the cancer spreads into the bladder or bowel, while in the next, it exceeds the pelvis.
If the cancer of the uterus is recurrent, it develops even after it has been treated.