Strong Sets New Course for Uterine Cancer Treatment

March 19, 2003

New guidelines for treatment of uterine cancer may help women avoid a second surgery or more extensive radiation. The recommendations by the University of Rochester Medical Center are already practiced locally at Strong Health and are receiving national attention with their publication in the March 2003 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a prominent journal for that specialty.

Lead author Brent DuBeshter, M.D., director of Gynecology Oncology at the UR Medical Center, says there are inconsistencies in the diagnosis and treatment of uterine cancer, the most common gynecological cancer.

“The problems stem from inaccuracy of diagnostic tests, inconsistent textbook guidelines for treatment, and failure to recognize that uterine cancer spreads to lymph nodes more often than originally thought,” DuBeshter says.

Until the discrepancies are resolved, DuBeshter says, all women who undergo surgery as part of their treatment should have their pelvic lymph nodes removed at the same time, as a precaution.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 40,100 new cases of uterine cancer diagnosed in 2003, with 6,800 deaths.

DuBeshter’s study reviewed medical records for 300 patients who had surgery to treat their uterine cancer between 1991 and 2000. Among the findings: For 21 percent of the patients who initially believed they had a grade 1 tumor, final pathology results revealed a higher grade tumor, with increased potential for the cancer to spread.

Based on the study results, “it’s no longer appropriate to ignore the risk of lymph node spread in women with uterine cancer,” DuBeshter says.

The researchers also discovered that when abnormal cells are found in tissue from the cervix, this could be a powerful predictor of whether the cancer was likely to spread.

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