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IUD fights cancer

young women

The popular birth control method, intrauterine devices or IUDs, can also be used to treat endometrial cancer and may even cure it completely. New research published in the Annals of Oncology reveals the good news that a cure to this debilitating cancer may be relatively easily and inexpensively treated. This is especially important for young women with the disease as the normal course of treatment includes hysterectomy making it impossible for them to give birth.

Endometrial cancer is the sixth most common cancer for women worldwide. The go to treatment is total hysterectomy including ovaries. For some women an oral hormone therapy can be used to slow but not stop the cancer and the side effects can be debilitating.

The research team from Italy placed IUDs in young women of child bearing age who had experienced a precursor to the endometrial cancer. The IUD released the progestin hormone levonorgestrel and was combined with a monthly injection of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) for six months. The IUD was left in place for one year. If the cancer did not develop or had diminished, the women were allowed to remove the device and become pregnant. Once the women had their children, they were advised to get a full hysterectomy to prevent any recurrence.

Ninety-five percent of the 20 women studied had a completely successful experience with the treatment although four relapsed much later and were retreated successfully. “Using an IUD allows us to deliver a much higher dose of the hormone levonorgestrel to the endometrial surface than would be possible via a pill. It keeps concentrations of the hormone at a low level I the blood serum, thereby avoiding the many side effects resulting from giving the drug via the systemic route,” said Dr. Lucas Minig, an author of the study.

Most importantly, “We think that treatment with levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs is ideally suited to young patients who may not want to have children immediately but would like to have the opportunity to have them in the future.”

Source: European Society for Medical Oncology, ScienceDaily


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