The University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center (UMGCC) says uterine sarcoma, a very rare kind of cancer, is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the muscles or other supporting tissues of the uterus. The uterus is the pear-shaped organ in the pelvis, where a fetus grows.
Only a few risk factors are known for developing uterine sarcomas. The American Cancer Society says women who’ve had pelvic radiation have an increased risk for developing uterine sarcomas. These cancers usually are diagnosed 5 to 25 years after the radiation exposure. Uterine sarcomas are about twice as common in African-American women as in white or Asian women. And they’re more likely to develop in middle-aged and older women.
UMGCC states they also can develop more frequently in women who have risk factors for endometrial cancer, such as obesity, estrogen replacement therapy, infertility, diabetes, late onset of menstruation or menopause, or treatment with tamoxifen.
American Cancer Society says the symptoms of uterine sarcomas are abnormal bleeding or spotting, vaginal discharge and pelvic pain and/or mass.
Once patients are diagnosed with uterine sarcoma, they need more tests to determine if it has spread from the uterus to other parts of the body. This is called staging and helps in planning treatment.
UMGCC describes the stages for uterine sarcomas:
Stage I: Cancer is found only in the main part of the uterus.
Stage II: Cancer cells have spread to the cervix.
Stage III: Cancer cells have spread outside the uterus but not outside the pelvis.
Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread beyond the pelvis, to other body parts, or into the bladder or rectum lining.
Recurrent: Recurrent means the cancer has come back after previously treated.
Mayo Clinic says surgery is the most common treatment for uterine sarcoma. Additional therapy to destroy uterine cancer cells may include radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.
The major goal of surgery is to remove all of the cancer.