Entries in uterine cancer (3)


Las Vegas Machete Attack Victim Now Battling Cancer

ABC (LAS VEGAS) -- A Las Vegas domestic abuse survivor who nearly lost both hands in a machete attack now faces a second challenge. She is undergoing extensive surgery and treatments for uterine cancer.

On the night of March 31, Maria Del Carmen Gomez, 53, was leaving the North Las Vegas convenience store where she worked when she was blindsided by her 50-year-old ex-boyfriend, Armando Vergara-Martinez. He allegedly stabbed her seven times with the machete's 18-inch blade. In the attack he hacked away at her hands, almost severing them completely.

Miraculously, Gomez survived the attack. In two surgeries, doctors were also able to reattach her hands and repair the damage to her skull. Though it is still unclear if she will fully recuperate and regain full use of her hands, she has been undergoing therapy since the incident and was on the path to recovery.

In April Vergara-Martinez appeared in court and said that he would be pleading guilty to the crime.

Now, five months after the brutal attack, Gomez faces another battle: she is being treated for metastatic uterine cancer.

Gomez was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, and just last week underwent a lengthy surgery to remove her ovaries and uterus. In the five-hour procedure, doctors removed cancerous tissue from her colon, diaphragm and lymph nodes.

Metastatic uterine cancer begins in the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, and typically occurs after a woman goes through menopause. Treatment typically involves a hysterectomy, or surgery to remove the uterus. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are often also removed.

"The tumor was removed last week," Rebeca Ferreira, who founded the Las Vegas-based Safe Faith United and is supporting Gomez, told ABC News. "It was huge, and it was in a very advanced stage. The doctors said the colon was affected too. They had to remove part of it. She is undergoing chemotherapy, and they've now moved her to a recovery cancer center."

"She's there -- she's very weak and very pale. And the bills continue to pile up," she said.

Ferreira says that both she and Gomez, who is also a diabetic, believe that the cancer may have been accelerated by the trauma and surgeries from her injuries.

"Maria's body has been under a lot of stress, and on a lot of medications, one surgery after another," Ferreira said. "I think maybe that the immune system was there, and it triggered [the cancer]. The doctors haven't said that; they don't know if this comes from weakened immune system."

Research varies on whether or not stress can lead to cancer. Some studies have shown that stress can hinder the immune system's anti-tumor defense, and a 2010 study showed that stress hormones like adrenaline can support tumor growth.

Whether or not the trauma from her brutal attack and her cancer diagnosis are related, the toll on Gomez has been severe.

"She was so strong, she would smile, and say [the attack] was nothing. I'd say, 'This is not nothing, this is something," Ferreira said. "Now she can't take the reality. Now she thinks, 'What am I going to do?'" she said. "Doctors were very optimistic. The doctors said that by December she'd be using her own hands."

"After the cancer, she's another person. She's very sad, very weak, she looks pale, and fragile, and helpless," Ferreira said.

Doctors are saying that Gomez will be able to beat the cancer, but she will have to undergo extensive chemotherapy. In the meantime, she cannot work, so she is relying on the donations to support herself.

Ferreira, who is also a domestic violence survivor, and launched Safe Faith United with her own funds, said she is doing all she can to help Gomez. She says that she has held raffles and invited some politicians to help, and soon plans to raise funds on a larger scale.

Ferreira said she also wants to ensure that Vergara-Martinez -- who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, could face a prison term of four to 40 years -- pays for his crime.

"Since October is National Domestic Violence Month, we're going to head down to the courthouse with banners," she said. "The prosecutor just wants a conviction. If he pleads guilty, he can get out. We don't want him to get away with this."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Nuns Take the Pill for Health Reasons?

Hemera/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- The world’s 94,790 nuns pay an unexpected price for their chastity: an increased risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.

A commentary by Australian researchers highlights the health hazards many nuns could face because of nulliparity (the condition of never being pregnant) -- hazards they say could be minimized by the birth control pill.

“If the Catholic Church could make the oral contraceptive pill freely available to all its nuns, it would reduce the risk of those accursed pests, cancer of the ovary and uterus, and give nuns’ plight the recognition it deserves,” Kara Britt of Monash University in Victoria and Roger Short of the University of Melbourne wrote in The Lancet.

The term “accursed pests” was first used to describe breast cancer among nuns by Italian physician Bernadino Ramazzini in 1713. Since then, severe epidemiological studies have confirmed the risk, including a study of more than 31,658 Catholic nuns in the U.S. between 1900 and 1954 that found an increased risk of dying from breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.

Because they don’t experience pregnancy or lactation, women who don’t have sex have more ovulatory menstrual cycles.  That increased number of cycles is directly linked to an increased risk of cancer.  But the birth control pill -- a form of contraception condemned by the Catholic Church -- has been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer by up to 60 percent.

“The Catholic Church condemns all forms of contraception except abstinence, as outlined by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in 1968,” wrote Britt and Short. “Although Humanae Vitae never mentions nuns, they should be free to use the contraceptive pill to protect against the hazards of nulliparity since the document states that 'the Church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect.'"

Oral contraceptives can increase the risk of blood clots, a risk thought to be higher in some newer versions of the pill.  But the pill’s cancer risk-reducing effects are well-documented, wrote Britt and Short, and nuns should be able to benefit from them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Method of Diagnosing Uterine Cancer

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Good news for uterine cancer patients. A new study says there's an easier way of diagnosing the extent of their illness.  

Patients with early-stage breast cancer no longer need to have a large number of lymph nodes removed to test for the spread of their cancer.  Now a study in the journal Lancet Oncology finds the same may be true for women with early uterine cancer. 

The ongoing research was carried out on 133 women in France. It concludes that a biopsy on a smaller number of what are called sentinel lymph nodes can diagnose with high accuracy whether the cancer has metastasized. That means women with early uterine cancer don't need to have all their pelvic lymph nodes removed-- greatly reducing the risk of complications such as painful swelling. In a comment accompanying the study, the journal's editors say the new method could be a "win-win  scenario: A more conservative procedure and a more sensitive means" to identify women at high risk and select them for proper therapy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio