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Uterine cancer ranks fourth

on list of female cancers

Dear Dr. Donohue: There is so much written about breast cancer but so little about uterine cancer. I have just had my uterus removed because of it. Why is there so little written about it? — J.T.

Uterine cancer — endometrial cancer is its other name — is the fourth most common female cancer. Each year in North America it adds to its roster of victims more than 34,000 new cases and kills more than 6,000 women.

Breast cancer, however, is six times more common than uterine cancer, and breast cancer causes more than seven times the deaths that uterine cancer does. Breast cancer gets more attention because it affects more women.

Uterine cancer is something that deserves notice. Caught early, it is possible to achieve cure.

Vaginal bleeding in a woman who has been through menopause is its most frequent sign. Bleeding ought to alert all menopausal women to schedule a doctor’s visit quickly.

Women who entered puberty at a young age or who did not experience menopause until later than most other women are at risk for uterine cancer. Cigarette smoking, diabetes and obesity are other factors that foster the growth of this cancer. Age is another malignant influence. The average age of onset is 64, and the older a woman gets, the greater are her chances of having uterine cancer.

It sounds as though you caught your cancer early. You can expect to have good results.

Dear Dr. Donohue: Can you explain what a right bundle branch block is and how it happens? Is it hereditary? — M.T.

Electric current makes the heart beat. The heart has its own generator — its pacemaker. The pacemaker is located in the right upper heart chamber, the right atrium.

Bundles of special cells conduct the electric current coming from the pacemaker to the heart’s two lower chambers — the ventricles, the heart’s blood-pumping chambers.

Those bundles, right and left, are similar to electric cables.

A right bundle branch block is a short circuit in the right cable. The right ventricle still gets the electric signal, but the signal must travel a slightly different path than the normal path.

If all other aspects of heart health are fine, a right bundle branch block does not imply serious heart disease and does not lead to a heart attack or an early death.

How it happens is often inscrutable.

A block in the left bundle can be an indication that heart health is not at 100 percent.

Dear Dr. Donohue: I don’t know if I’m spelling this right, but I am inquiring about a varicocele in the scrotum. What is its treatment? What caused it? Can an injury be responsible? — M.S.

What varicose veins are to the legs, varicoceles (VAR-uh-coe-SEALS) are to the testicles. They are a mass of dilated, tortuous veins.

Some theorize that they result from defective valves in those veins. Valves keep blood from backing up in veins. When they are not operating properly, blood stagnates in the veins and stretches them out of shape.

Varicoceles can be a cause of male infertility. The stagnated blood in the veins raises the testes’ temperature and diminishes sperm production.

Sometimes, varicoceles cause a dull pain.

If either of the above holds true, then a surgeon can tie off the varicocele veins, ending the problem. Injection into the veins with solutions that cause scar formation is another way to collapse them. Sometimes scope surgery — laparoscopic surgery — takes care of the problem with only a small incision having to be made.

A sudden appearance of a varicocele in a middle-aged or older man makes doctors sit up and take notice. In those instances, varicoceles can be a sign of cancer, kidney cancer in particular.

Injury is not a common cause of varicoceles