A uterine sarcoma is a malignant tumor found in either the smooth muscle or the connective tissue of the uterus. Uterine sarcomas are classified using the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system.
Stage I are the most mild and stage IV are the most advanced tumors. Stage I tumors are in the uterus only whereas later stages of tumors have spread to other parts of the pelvis and body.
Staging takes tumor size, location and metastasis of the tumor into consideration. Uterine sarcomas make up approximately 4% of all uterine malignancies. The most common are endometrial carcinomas.
Signs & Symptoms
Patients who have developed a uterine sarcoma may experience unusual vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause. They may feel pain and pressure in the pelvic area or see an unusual vaginal discharge. A non-pregnant uterus that enlarges quickly may also be an indication. It is important to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Unfortunately there is no screening test specific to uterine sarcoma. Pap smears are designed to test for cervical cancer, but not uterine sarcoma. If a uterine sarcoma is suspected a physician will most likely order scanning via an ultrasound, CAT scan or MRI. If possible a biopsy will be performed to form a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of uterine sarcoma depends on the size and stage of the tumor. Surgery is a standard treatment option. Surgery might mean removing just the tumor or it could involve a total hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Radiation, chemotherapy and hormone regimens are also common treatments for uterine sarcoma.
Unfortunately prognosis for uterine sarcoma is relatively poor. Patients with a history of exposure to pelvic radiation are at a higher risk of developing a uterine sarcoma, as are postmenopausal women.