Treatment options for uterine (endometrial) cancer are based on several factors like the type and stage of the cancer, the patient's age and overall health, and personal preferences. Personal preferences considered are the possible side effects of cancer treatment, like how it will impact the ability to have children (fertility). Endometrial cancer treatment can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. You may receive more than one type of treatment.
Surgery is the most common treatment for women with uterine cancer. You and your surgeon can talk about the types of surgery (hysterectomy) and which may be right for you.
The surgeon usually removes the uterus, cervix, and nearby tissues. The nearby tissues may include:
Surgery to remove lymph nodes may cause lymphedema (swelling) in one or both legs. Your health care team can tell you how to prevent or relieve lymphedema.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells in the treated area only. Radiation therapy is an option for women with all stages of uterine cancer. It may be used before or after surgery. For women who can’t have surgery for other medical reasons, radiation therapy may be used instead to destroy cancer cells in the uterus. Women with cancer that invades tissue beyond the uterus may have radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat uterine cancer. Some women receive both types:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used after surgery to treat uterine cancer that has an increased risk of returning after treatment. For example, uterine cancer that is a high grade or is Stage II, III, or IV may be more likely to return. Also, chemotherapy may be given to women whose uterine cancer can’t be completely removed by surgery. For advanced cancer, it may be used alone or with radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy for uterine cancer is usually given by vein (intravenous). It’s usually given in cycles. Each cycle has a treatment period followed by a rest period.
Some uterine tumors need hormones to grow. These tumors have hormone receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both. If lab tests show that the tumor in your uterus has these receptors, then hormone therapy may be an option.
Hormone therapy may be used for women with advanced uterine cancer. Also, some women with Stage I uterine cancer who want to get pregnant and have children choose hormone therapy instead of surgery. The most common drug used for hormone therapy is progesterone tablets.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, or another type of gynecologic cancer, make an appointment with one of our oncologists. WVCI has a team of experts, conveniently located in Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Florence, Newport, and Lincoln City, ready to talk to you about endometrial cancer and personalized treatment options. We know it’s important for you to get good information and choose a uterine cancer treatment plan that’s best for you, so we are here for you every step of the way.