Stage IV

Coping With a Stage IV Uterine Cancer Diagnosis

If you've been diagnosed with stage IV cancer, it may be very tempting to assume you've reached the end of the road, and to give up hope. While patients who have progressed to this stage of the disease are more difficult to treat than others, a stage IV uterine cancer diagnosis does not necessarily have to be viewed as a death sentence. There are always options for treating the disease, and some of the most skilled oncologists have been able to send patients into remission after a stage IV diagnosis.

Patients are considered to be in stage IV of the disease if cancerous cells that once existed as uterine cancer have metastasized, or spread to other areas of the body. Unlike other types of cancer, an early diagnosis is not necessarily key to avoiding a stage IV diagnosis, because it is often difficult to surgically remove all the affected tissue. Even surgeries such as a radical hysterectomy may often leave unseen tumors or clumps of cancerous cells behind, allowing the disease to metastasize.

Stage IV cases are divided into two categories of illness, type A and type B. In type A, it is typical that the cancer spreads to the bladder, bowel, or kidneys. Meanwhile, type B is characterized by cancer that has spread to other vital organs, or metastasized throughout the body. Whether there is hope of remission, or doctors are simply looking to extend a patient's lifespan, a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery is required to aggressively attack the disease. Unfortunately, it can be one of the most difficult types of cancer to eliminate from the body. Many stage IV patients end up in cancer clinics or under the full-time care of an oncologist while hospitalized, due to the frequency of treatments.

In some cases, the cancer is considered inoperable. Medical professionals in the past would often treat these types of cancers with chemotherapy and radiation to increase the length of the patient's survival. Nowadays, these techniques have been combined with a surgical procedure called 'debulking,' where as much of the cancerous tissue is removed as possible. Studies have shown this technique has, in some cases, increased a patient's lifespan by three to four times of those who have not had surgery.

Clinical trials are also an option for patients suffering from this type of illness. However, despite all technology at hand, it is extremely rare that inoperable cancer goes into remission, and the condition is considered terminal. Stage IV patients should be counseled about their options for fighting the disease, as well as coming to terms with the realization that a cure is unlikely, and making end-of-life choices. However, even with inoperable cancer, a patient may survive 2-5 years past stage IV diagnosis, if aggressive treatment is successful.