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Monday, July 19, 2010

Why I decided to have a hysterectomy

Does tamoxifen cause cancers of the uterus?

Tamoxifen increases the risk of two types of cancer that can develop in the uterus: endometrial cancer, which arises in the lining of the uterus, and uterine sarcoma, which arises in the muscular wall of the uterus. Like all cancers, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma are potentially life-threatening. Women who have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) and are taking tamoxifen are not at increased risk for these cancers.

Endometrial Cancer

Studies have found the risk of developing endometrial cancer to be about 2 cases per 1,000 women taking tamoxifen each year compared with 1 case per 1,000 women taking placebo (1, 2). Most of the endometrial cancers that have occurred in women taking tamoxifen have been found in the early stages, and treatment has usually been effective. However, for some breast cancer patients who developed endometrial cancer while taking tamoxifen, the disease was life-threatening.

Uterine Sarcoma

Studies have found the risk of developing uterine sarcoma to be slightly higher in women taking tamoxifen compared with women taking placebo. However, it was less than 1 case per 1,000 women per year in both groups (1, 2). Research to date indicates that uterine sarcoma is more likely to be diagnosed at later stages than endometrial cancer, and may therefore be harder to control and more life-threatening than endometrial cancer.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal (pelvic) pain are symptoms of cancers of the uterus. Women who are taking tamoxifen should talk with their doctor about having regular pelvic examinations and should be checked promptly if they have any abnormal vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain between scheduled exams.

I am waiting to hear back from my doc on the pathology results.

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