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Study: An IUD May Treat Endometrial Cancer and Preserve Fertility in Young Women

Time,  Sept 30, 2010

A new study finds that intrauterine devices (IUD), which are traditionally used as contraceptives, could help treat early stage endometrial cancer in women who wish to preserve their fertility.

The new study tracked 34 Italian women under age 40. Fourteen women had early stage endometrial cancer (a cancer of the uterine lining) and 20 had a precancerous endometrial disease. Each woman was treated with an IUD that secreted a low level of a synthetic progesterone hormone to the uterus. The women also received monthly injections to inhibit estrogen.

The idea was to block the growth of endometrial cancer by blocking estrogen, which fuels it, and to prevent the endometrial layer from building up in the uterus by delivering the localized progesterone hormone through the IUD.
A year after IUD placement, 19 of the women with precancerous disease had no sign of endometrial cancer, but four would need retreatment. Eight women with early stage cancer also saw their cancer disappear after six months, and two would need further treatment.

Women who presented without cancer after a year of therapy were allowed to remove their IUDs and attempt to get pregnant. Nine women had successful pregnancies. As of 2006, 10 years after the study began, all women are still alive and cancer-free.

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