What factors affect the prognosis of uterine cancer?

There are two types of uterine cancer. The first, also called endometrial cancer, is a cancer of the lining of the uterine wall; This type of uterine cancer is by far the more common of the two. The second type, uterine sarcoma, involves cancer cells in the musculature that surrounds a woman's uterus. The outlook for uterine cancer varies based on three factors: the grade of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the cancer's response to progesterone.

When a doctor suspects that a patient may have uterine cancer, he or she will perform a uterine biopsy, which involves removing a section of the uterus and sending it to a laboratory. Technicians then examine this tissue. If there is a malignant or cancerous tumor, the technician will grade the tumor as 1, 2, or 3 based on the size and texture of the mass. The prognosis of uterine cancer depends in part on the grade of the tumor.

Staging, a step in determining uterine cancer prognosis that determines a cancer's progress, also plays a role in uterine cancer prognosis. Uterine cancer grows slowly in most people, which bodes well for those with the disease. Stage 1 uterine cancer means that the cancer is present only along the wall of the uterus. Stages 1A and 1B indicate the depth of the cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for patients with uterine cancer at this stage is 96 percent.

Stage 2 means that the uterine cancer is in the cervix, which is the part of the body closest to the uterus. In Stage 3, the cancer spreads regionally to other parts of the reproductive system, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or to lymph nodes in that part of the body. The final stage of uterine cancer indicates that the cancer has spread outside the pelvic region or that, within the region, the cancer is in the bladder. As staging progresses, the survival rate for patients with uterine cancer decreases.

A tumor's response to progesterone also affects the prognosis of uterine cancer. The use of progesterone therapy is one way to slow the growth of late-stage uterine cancer. Patients using this therapy are given injections or oral prescriptions of progesterone, which will help offset the effects of excess estrogen. Progesterone therapy does not cure uterine cancer; rather it works to prolong the life of a patient with the highest possible quality of life.

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