WEDNESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- An intrauterine device that releases a progestin hormone may be an effective treatment for younger women with early-stage uterine cancer, Italian researchers report.
By delaying a total hysterectomy, which is the usual treatment for endometrial cancer, the IUD allows women to remain fertile and possibly to have families, according to the study published online Wednesday in Annals of Oncology, the monthly journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology.
"The study was done to see if this was a viable option for younger women who want to preserve fertility," said Dr. Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, senior associate consultant in the division of gynecologic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "We see it as buying more time to have a family and, once that's completed, to have a hysterectomy."
"It's a very important trial," added Dr. Angeles Alvarez Secord, associate professor of gynecologic oncology at Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center in Durham, N.C. "I've been using [the IUD] clinically for several years now for this purpose in patients who desire future fertility and some patients who cannot undergo surgery or who are at high risk for surgical complications. It's a fantastic alternative to treat patients with these diseases, and this study will help doctors when they discuss [treatment options] with patients."
Bakkum-Gomez has also used the method in her practice and is conducting a study of the IUD, which was originally designed as a contraceptive device, for this purpose.
About 3 percent to 5 percent of women who get endometrial cancer, which affects the womb lining, are under the age of 40 and will lose their fertility if they undergo a hysterectomy. The majority of these women have not yet had children, according to background information in the article.
Although the IUD is not yet approved to trea
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