"Metastatic Uterine Cancer".

Essay by joann333University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2003

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Cancer is an ongoing problem in society. With not one exact cause there is no perfect prevention or cure. You are someone you know are more likely than you think to get cancer. In fact "1 in 3 people will develop cancer during their lifetime...it mainly occurs in the later years of life. Cancers can occur at any age, but the risk of developing cancer increases with age. Some cancers are very common and others are very rare" (www.seattlecca.org). The most recent statistics show that for men the most common cancer is lung cancer, prostate cancer, large bowel cancer and bladder cancer. For women the figures are breast cancer, large bowel cancer, lung cancer and cancer of ovaries (www.cancerbacup.org).


Some cancer may spread to different organs of the body including the lungs. When this occurs the second cancer is called secondary lung cancer. It is not the same as lung cancer.

Some symptoms of secondary lung cancer include a cough that does not clear up, shortness of breath, coughing up bloodstained phlegm (sputum) and/or pain or discomfort in the chest. Your doctor must diagnose condition. This report will help patients and their families understand what cancer is as well as the types of treatment available.


The organs and tissues of the body are made up of tiny building blocks called cells. Cells are constantly becoming old and dying, and new cells are produced to replace them. Normally, the division and growth of cells is orderly but if this process gets out of control, the cells will continue to divide and develop into a lump, which is called a tumor. Tumors that are cancerous are called malignant tumors (www.cancerbacup.org).


Fig. 1 "Cells forming a tumor" (www.cancerbacup.org)


Carcinomas: About 85% of cancers are carcinomas. They start in the epithelium, which is the covering (or lining) of organs and of the body (the skin).

Sarcomas: These form in the connective tissues of the body such as muscle, bone and fatty tissue (6% of cancers).

Leukaemias/Lymphomas: These occur in the tissues where white blood cells (which fight infection in the body) are formed, i.e. the bone marrow, and lymphatic system (5%).

Others forms of cancer: Brain tumors and other rare forms of cancer make up the other 4% of cancers.



My mother, Connie, was diagnosed with secondary lung cancer in September of 2002. She has been struggling to fight the cancer since her diagnosis. In my interview Connie explained to me about her diagnosis, cancer cells that have spread to the lungs from a cancer, which began in her uterus. The original cancer is described as a primary cancer, and when it spreads this is referred to as secondary or metastases cancer.


The symptoms of a secondary lung cancer may be quite distressing and can include:

a cough that does not clear up

shortness of breath

coughing up blood-stained phlegm (sputum)

pain or discomfort in the chest


The treatment for a secondary lung cancer depends on the primary cancer. Often chemotherapy or hormone therapy can be given to reduce and control lung secondary cancer. Surgery to remove the secondary lung cancer may be possible for a small number of people.

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. There are more than 50 different chemotherapy drugs. Some are given as tablets or capsules but most are given by drip (infusion) into a vein. The drugs go into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to treat the cancer cells wherever they are. Sometimes just one chemotherapy drug is used, but often a combination of two, three or more drugs is given (www.seattlecca.org).

Hormonal therapies work by altering the levels of particular hormones in the body. Some cancers depend on certain hormones in order to divide and grow. By altering the level of hormones in the body, or blocking the hormones from attaching to the cancer cells the cancer can be controlled (www.seattlecca.org).

Surgery is often used if the cancer is only in one area of the body and has not spread. It may be used to remove lymph nodes if the cancer also affects these. It can sometimes be used to remove a cancer that has spread to another area of the body, but this is not common. The type of operation will depend on the area of the body affected by the cancer, and on the size and position of the tumor (www.cancerbacup.org).


Since Connie's diagnosis in September of 2002 she has tried 3 different kinds of chemotherapy and one type of hormonal treatment.

The types of chemotherapy she has tried include:

Doxorubicin belongs to a general group known as anthracycline antibiotics. It is given by intravenous push method.

More common side effects include:

-Decreased white blood cell count -Loss of appetite

-Decreased platelet count-Hair loss

-Darkening of nail beds and creases of hand-Nausea


Effectiveness: This was the first chemotherapy Connie tried and it was somewhat affective for a couple of months. It kept her tumors stable for the first three months and there was no growth during this time. Her doctor kept her on this chemotherapy for another month and when she was checked again they found out the tumors had began to grow again. So her doctor tried a different kind of chemotherapy.

Carboplatin is a platinum drug that belongs to a general group known as the alkyating agents. It is given intravenously over 12-60 minutes.

More common side effects include:

-Nausea -Vomiting

-Mild loss of appetite-Mild diarrhea

-Constipation-Taste Changes

-Sensation of pins and needles in hands of feet

Effectiveness: Unlike the Doxorubicin, Carboplatin was ineffective. While Connie was taking this chemotherapy her tumors were growing rapidly. After just a few sessions her doctor switched her chemotherapy again.

Paclitaxel belongs to a general group of drugs known as taxanes. It is also called a mitotic inhibitor because of it affect on the cell during mitosis (cell division). It is given intravenously over one or more hours.

More common side effects include:

-Decreased white blood cell count -Fatigue

-Numbness and tingling in hands/feet-Muscle and bone aches

-Hair loss Mild loss of appetite-Nausea

-Vomiting-Mild diarrhea

-Mild stomatits (oral ulcers)

Effectiveness: Much like the Carboplatin, Paclitaxel was also ineffective. Connie's doctor gave up on chemotherapy and decided to try a hormonal supplement.

Wikes, G.M., Ingwerson, K., & Barton M. (2003). Oncology nursing handbook.


Connie is currently taking a hormonal supplement called megestrol antineoplastic (anti cancer agent). Megestrol is a synthetic form of the hormone progestin. In interferes with the activity of certain other hormones and proteins needed for some types of cancer cells to grow. It is taken orally once a day.

More common side effects include:

-Changes in appetite -Changes in thirst

-Changes in weight -Headache

- Indigestion-Breast tenderness

Effectiveness: Connie has yet to be checked to see the effectiveness of the hormonal supplement. If this treatment proves to be ineffective her doctor will try another kind of chemotherapy.

Wikes, G.M., Ingwerson, K., & Barton M. (2003). Oncology nursing handbook.


Diet: Connie is also on a diet in order to help her cancer not progress. A healthy diet is vital for a person's body to work best. This is even more crucial for cancer patients. If eating healthy the patient can go into treatment with reserves to help keep up their strength, prevent body tissue from breaking down, rebuild tissue, and maintain defenses against infection. Patients who eat well cope better with side effects and area able to handle higher doses of treatment. Doctor Burton Goldberg in his book, Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to CANCER, recommends a diet that is low in sugars. Patients systems who consume a lot of sugar, pastries, and other refined carbohydrate foods may tend to favor growth of tumors. Goldberg (1998) also notes that "sugar also reinforce the "bad fat track" that promotes inflammation and tumor growth" (p.611). Sugar is also known for its adverse effect on the immune system. So it is best to eat a healthy diet that includes cutting back on sugar as much as possible.

Prayer: Other things Connie is involved with include attending church regularly, visiting the Healing Rooms, and praying often. The Healing Rooms is a place that Connie visit two to three time a week. In the Healing Rooms there is two people place their hands upon the sick and pray over them to places the healing power of god into them. Bring the Lord into her life has brought here hope for the future. This helps ease her pain and accept the outcome she may have.


Cancer is a tumor formed by abnormal cells. When cancer spreads form an organ to the lungs it is called secondary lung cancer. Secondary lung cancer is a serious condition that needs treatment immediately. Symptoms include a cough that does not clear up, shortness of breath, coughing up bloodstained phlegm (sputum) and/or pain or discomfort in the chest. There are different options that should be explored with your doctor these include chemotherapy, surgery and hormonal therapy. Other treatments you may do on your own may include a healthy diet and a support system like prayer to help you cope. What one can do if diagnosed with secondary cancer: Stay calm and take charge of you care, choose a hospital that best fits your needs, always get a second opinion, follow your doctor's treatments, learn as much as you can about you cancer, eat healthy, build a support system, and never give up hope.