Uterine sarcoma is a type of cancer that affects the uterine muscle and the surrounding tissue. The uterus is a female organ in the lower abdomen where the development of a fetus occurs. The lower end of the uterus, called the cervix, leads to the vagina. The upper end is known as the body or corpus of the uterus and is made of three layers. Cancers form when a mutation in DNA causes certain cells to grow out of control, sometimes forming a lump or a tumor. Some of these cancerous cells can break off and spread to other parts of the body where they will continue to grow. This process is known as metastasis. Factors that increase the risk for uterine sarcoma are exposure to pelvic radiation, being of African American race, and having an abnormal copy of the Rb gene.
Endometrial stromal sarcomas are a type of uterine sarcoma that start in the connective tissue of the endometrium, the inner layer of the body of the uterus. These cancers grow slowly. Undifferentiated sarcomas are another type that are fast growing and more aggressive. Uterine leiomyosarcomas are another type that begin in the muscle layer of the body of the uterus known as the myometrium. Symptoms of uterine sarcoma are vaginal bleeding or spotting, pelvic pain, a feeling of pelvic heaviness, and abnormal vaginal discharge. However, these may also be symptoms of other, non-cancerous conditions.
Diagnosis of uterine sarcoma is made through a combination of a pelvic exam, taking a biopsy or tissue sample, and imaging techniques such as an ultrasound, PET, and MRI. Treatment for uterine sarcoma can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. If you have been diagnosed with uterine sarcoma, talk to your doctor or a gynecologic oncologist about the most current treatment options. Support groups are available for more information and to connect you to other women with uterine sarcoma.