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Intrauterine device may halt cancer

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An intrauterine device could be used to avoid the need for women with endometrial cancer to have a hysterectomy, scientists in Italy have claimed.

The cancer is usually treated by removing the victim’s womb and ovaries, leaving them unable to have children.

Some patients are given hormone tablets to restrict the growth of the womb cancer but this can create rashes and nausea.

Now researchers in Italy say an alternative method looks to be possible because of the results of their trial, published in Annals of Oncology, which used an intrauterine device.

The team wanted to find out if the cancer could be halted and reversed with an IUD which released hormones for six months to stop the endometrial layer of the womb growing, combined with injections of another hormone to stop the production of oestrogen, which promotes the development of the cancer.

They were able to analyse results from 34 women aged 22-40 who were treated at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan between 1996 and 2009.

Of the 20 patients with AEH (atypical endometrial hyperplasia), 19 responded successfully to the treatment initially, although four relapsed and had to be treated again later, the scientists found.

Eight of the 14 early-stage cancer patients showed no signs of disease after the treatment, two responded successfully initially but relapsed later, while the disease progressed in four.

Nine babies have been born among the women taking part in the trial and all the women are alive without evidence of disease, according to the authors.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • AEH is not cancer though. It can be a precursor, in that up to 20% of women with it may develop cancer, but the headline and the article should not tout the IUD as a 'cure', when there is not yet cancer there.
    Having said that, it is obvously an interesting piece or work and if results from wider trials show the same results, then It will be welcomed with open arms.

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