Uterine Sarcoma Diagnosis
The following tests and procedures may be used to diagnose uterine sarcoma:
Factors Affecting Prognosis and Treatment Options
- Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
- Pelvic exam: An exam of the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts one or two lubricated, gloved fingers of one hand into the vagina and the other hand is placed over the lower abdomen to feel the size, shape, and position of the uterus and ovaries. A speculum is also inserted into the vagina and the doctor or nurse looks at the vagina and cervix for signs of disease. A Pap test or Pap smear of the cervix is usually done. The doctor or nurse also inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or abnormal areas.
- Pap test: A procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. This procedure is also called a Pap smear. Because uterine sarcoma begins inside the uterus, this cancer may not show up on the Pap test.
- Dilatation and curettage: Surgery to remove samples of tissue or the inner lining of the uterus. The cervix is dilated and a curette (spoon-shaped instrument) is inserted into the uterus to remove tissue. Tissue samples may be taken and checked under a microscope for signs of disease. This procedure is also called a D&C.
- Endometrial biopsy: The removal of tissue from the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) by inserting a thin, flexible tube through the cervix and into the uterus. The tube is used to gently scrape a small amount of tissue from the endometrium and then remove the tissue samples. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer.
- The type and size of the tumor.
- The patient’s general health.
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Stages of Uterine Sarcoma
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the uterus or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. The following procedures may be used in the staging process:
- Transvaginal ultrasound exam: A procedure used to examine the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and bladder. An ultrasound transducer (probe) is inserted into the vagina and used to bounce high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The doctor can identify tumors by looking at the sonogram.
- CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the abdomen and pelvis, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues to show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
- Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
- Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.
- CA 125 assay: A test that measures the level of CA 125 in the blood. CA 125 is a substance released by cells into the bloodstream. An increased CA 125 level is sometimes a sign of cancer or other condition.
- Cystoscopy: A procedure to look inside the bladder and urethra to check for abnormal areas. A cystoscope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. A cystoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- Sigmoidoscopy: A procedure to look inside the rectum and sigmoid (lower) colon for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer. A sigmoidoscope is inserted through the rectum into the sigmoid colon. A sigmoidoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove polyps or tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
- Barium enema: A series of x-rays of the lower gastrointestinal tract. A liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) is put into the rectum. The barium coats the lower gastrointestinal tract and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called a lower GI series.
Uterine sarcoma may be diagnosed, staged, and treated in the same surgery.
Surgery is used to diagnose, stage, and treat uterine sarcoma. During this surgery, the doctor removes as much of the cancer as possible. The following procedures may be used to diagnose, stage, and treat uterine sarcoma:
- Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision (cut) is made in the wall of the abdomen to check the inside of the abdomen for signs of disease. The size of the incision depends on the reason the laparotomy is being done. Sometimes organs are removed or tissue samples are taken and checked under a microscope for signs of disease.
Abdominal and pelvic washings: A procedure in which a saline solution is placed into the abdominal and pelvic body cavities. After a short time, the fluid is removed and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
- Total abdominal hysterectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the uterus and cervix through a large incision (cut) in the abdomen.
Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Surgery to remove both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Lymphadenectomy: A surgical procedure in which lymph nodes are removed and checked under a microscope for signs of cancer. For a regional lymphadenectomy, some of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed. For a radical lymphadenectomy, most or all of the lymph nodes in the tumor area are removed. This procedure is also called lymph node dissection.
Cancer spreads in the body through tissue, blood or lymph system. When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. The following stages are used for uterine sarcoma:
In stage I, cancer is found in the uterus only. Stage I is divided into stage IA, stage IB, and stage IC, based on how far the cancer has spread.
- Stage IA: Cancer is in the endometrium only.
- Stage IB: Cancer has spread into the inner half of the myometrium (muscle layer of the uterus).
- Stage IC: Cancer has spread into the outer half of the myometrium.
In stage II, cancer has spread from the uterus to the cervix. Stage II is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB, based on how far the cancer has spread.
- Stage IIA: Cancer has spread to the glands where the cervix and uterus meet.
- Stage IIB: Cancer has spread into the connective tissue of the cervix.
In stage III, cancer has spread beyond the uterus and cervix, but has not spread beyond the pelvis. Stage III is divided into stage IIIA and stage IIIB, based on how far the cancer has spread within the pelvis.
- Stage IIIA: Cancer has spread to one or more of the following:
- the outermost layer of the uterus; and/or
- tissues just beyond the uterus; and/or
- the peritoneum.
- Stage IIIB: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis and/or near the uterus.
In stage IV, cancer has spread beyond the pelvis. Stage IV is divided into stage IVA and stage IVB, based on how far the cancer has spread.
- Stage IVA: Cancer has spread to the lining of the bladder and/or bowel.
- Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the pelvis, including lymph nodes in the abdomen and/or groin.
Recurrent Uterine Sarcoma
Recurrent uterine sarcoma is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the uterus or in other parts of the body.