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Uterine cancer stage 4 describes advanced malignancy invading areas of the body beyond the uterus, such as the bones, lungs, or liver. When uterine cancer stage 4 is diagnosed, uterine cancer cells are discovered outside the pelvic region. Uterine cancer stage 4 is commonly treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, but the survival rate at this stage is only about 10 percent.
Doctors determine the stage of uterine cancer by learning where cancer cells exist. Stage 1 depicts the onset of uterine cancer when abnormal cells are found in the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, and nearby tissue. At stage 2, the cancer has invaded the cervix. In stage 3 uterine cancers, cells have spread to adjacent organs such as the lymph nodes and vagina. Uterine cancer stage 4 can involve the bladder, rectum, intestines, or any region outside the pelvic area.
Hysterectomy represents a common treatment for uterine cancer stage 4. The uterus, ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes, and part of the vagina are typically removed. Surgery is commonly followed by chemotherapy to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Radiation therapy might consist of tubes of radioactive material inserted into the vagina.
About 95 percent of all uterine cancers begin in the lining of the organ or walls of the uterine muscles. A higher risk of developing uterine cancer exists in women over 55. Obesity and diabetes lead to a high risk of this type of cancer, along with the use of hormone replacement therapy containing estrogen alone over a long time. Therapy using estrogen and testosterone lowers the risk.
Studies also show a greater risk of uterine cancer in women who used tamoxifen to treat or prevent breast cancer. Family history also plays a role in who might develop this disease, especially if a sister, mother, or daughter is diagnosed with uterine cancer. Women who never had children, who started their menstrual cycles before the age of 12, and who enter menopause after the age of 55 face additional risks.
Symptoms of uterine cancer stage 4 typically include abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after menopause. In younger women, bleeding between periods might indicate a problem. Some women report pain or difficulty urinating, or pain during sex, as a sign of uterine cancer.
Pap tests reveal abnormal cells in the cervix, while blood tests might show abnormal functioning of the liver or kidneys. Some doctors x-ray the lungs to determine if uterine cancer stage 4 is present. Computer scans of the abdomen are also used to diagnose early or advanced stages of uterine cancer.