The uterus is a female reproductive organ located in the pelvis. Uterine cancer, or uterine sarcoma, is a disease in which cancer cells form in the uterus or in its surrounding tissues. Uterine cancer is very rare and should not be confused with cancer of the endometrium (cancer in the lining of the uterus).
Since uterine cancer is so rare, only a few risk factors are known to exist:
- Pelvic radiation therapy – high-energy radiation used to treat some cancers can damage cell DNA, which can increase the risk of developing another form of cancer. Women who have had radiation in the pelvic region have a higher risk of developing uterine cancer. It can take 5 to 25 years after pelvic radiation for uterine cancer to be diagnosed.
- Race – African American women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer than white or Asian women. The reason for the increased risk is currently unknown.
- RB gene changes – women who have had a type of eye cancer called retinoblastoma have an increased risk of developing uterine cancer. The RB gene that causes the eye cancer has been linked as a risk factor for uterine cancer.
Keep in mind that these risk factors do not cause uterine cancer; they only increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Doctors and researchers have not yet been able to determine the exact causes of uterine cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Cancer
There are a few signs and symptoms that may lead to the diagnosis of uterine cancer; however, these symptoms do not mean that a woman has uterine cancer. Still, if you experience any of the following symptoms, consult with a doctor to determine if further medical treatment is necessary:
- Abnormal bleeding or spotting – 85% of women diagnosed with uterine cancer report abnormal bleeding between periods or after menopause. Any vaginal bleeding after menopause is very abnormal and should be reported to a doctor right away.
- Vaginal discharge – about 10% of women with uterine sarcomas report a vaginal discharge that does not have any visible blood. Discharge is typically a sign of an infection, but a medical professional should still check.
- Pelvic pain/mass – about 10% of women with uterine cancer have pelvic pain and/or a tumor that can be felt. A mass may give you a feeling of fullness.
Uterine Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Some uterine cancers are found and diagnosed during or after surgery for what was originally believed to be benign fibroid tumors. Most uterine cancers are diagnosed from symptoms. If you display any of the symptoms above, a doctor will need to examine you and run tests. You may be referred to a gynecological oncologist who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system.
To find the cause of abnormal bleeding, the doctor will take a biopsy of the uterine lining and look at it under a microscope. There are several different uterine imaging and test procedures a doctor can perform to determine if cancer is present. The type of procedure performed will depend on your family history, physical exam, and symptoms.
Power Morcellators and Uterine Cancer
Uterine fibroids occur in nearly 80 percent of women over the age of 50. Women with uterine fibroids are commonly screened for uterine cancer before undergoing any procedures to remove the fibroids. However, the rarer form of uterine cancer, uterine sarcoma, may appear as benign uterine fibroids in imaging, and its often undetectable in preoperative screening.
Gynecologists have historically used devices called power morcellators to remove, or break up, large masses of tissues like uterine fibroids. Power morcellators are also commonly used to perform hysterectomies. Once the fibroids are broken up by the power morcellator, the tissue is vacuumed out of the body.
Although power morcellators allow doctors to make smaller incisions, which results in quicker patient recovery, serious complications are being linked to the use of this device. It’s been shown that once tissue masses are broken up, there isn’t a 100 percent chance everything will be removed from the body. If any of the broken up tissues contain cancer cells and they do not get removed, the cells can spread to other areas and lead to the development of cancerous tumors.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised doctors and patients against the use of power morcellators for the removal of the uterus and uterine fibroids. The agency stated that studies showed about 1 in 350 women who undergo hysterectomy or surgery for uterine fibroids have uterine sarcoma (cancer). After the FDA made their announcement, Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of a power morcellator, removed its product from the market.
Power Morcellator Lawsuits
Across the country, hundreds of women and their husbands have filed lawsuits against power morcellator manufacturers. They are suing the manufacturers for negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, failure to warn, failure to properly test, consumer risk, and failure to recall.
These women put trust into their doctors and into the procedures they had to effectively deal with their medical issues. Instead, most of them developed a rare form of uterine cancer that will affect the rest of their lives.
Power Morcellator Lawyers
Those injured by power morcellators may receive reimbursement for their medical expenses, lost wages, life style changes, wrongful death, future medical expenses, and other related damages. Future medical expenses are a large part of the compensation in power morecellator lawsuits. Victims who have had cancer spread throughout their body as a result of the morcellator injury may require future surgery, chemotherapy, or numerous other cancer treatments. These procedures are incredibly expensive and can last a lifetime, taking an enormous financial, mental and physical toll on the victims.
If you have lost a loved one, or are suffering from uterine cancer following a power morcellator surgery, call us today for a FREE CASE REVIEW.