Dr. Magtibay recalls the long-term risk factors associated with untreated endometrial cancer, a disease that starts in the uterine lining and can spread to the bladder and rectum, or into the bloodstream where it often travels to the lungs and the liver. Dr. Magtibay is a gynecologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.
The risk factors for untreated endometrial cancer are that the disease spreads. Endometrial cancer starts in the lining of the uterus. It then tends to grow roots into the wall of the uterus and then can spread either by continuing to grow roots and grow deeper into the bladder and the rectum. Or it can spread into the lymphatic channels going to the lymph nodes. Or it can spread hematogenously, meaning it can get into the bloodstream and spread anywhere throughout the body, particularly the lungs and the liver.
So, endometrial cancer needs to be treated and again, it needs to be treated by expert clinician and physician such as a gynecologic oncologist. Now fortunately, the vast majority, over 75 percent of endometrial cancers are caught in stage 1, meaning often times all we need to do for these patients is remove the uterus tubes in ovaries and maybe lymph nodes, and that’s it. We are able to cure many of these patients with surgery alone.
Some patients, however, need additional treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy and the surgical staging, meaning the surgical evaluation of what procedure we do in the operating room is very important from that standpoint, meaning endometrial cancer surgically staged, meaning we remove the uterus tubes in ovaries. We remove the lymph nodes, and we look all around the abdomen, do biopsies to see if that cancer has spread because that will determine not only whether or not you need additional treatment but determines your survivability of the disease.