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Uterine Cancer: Treatments

Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer. Most doctors recommend the surgical removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). Lymph nodes in the area should also be removed during surgery along with other tissue samples.

A hysterectomy is a major operation, and because you cannot get pregnant after your uterus has been removed, it can be a difficult decision for some women. However, surgery is usually the only way to eliminate the cancer or the need for further treatment.

If you have an aggressive form of endometrial cancer or the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, you may need additional treatments.

Radiation

Radiation therapy involves the use of high-dose x-rays to kill cancer cells. If your doctor believes you are at high risk of cancer recurrence, he or she may suggest that you have radiation therapy after a hysterectomy. Your doctor may also recommend radiation therapy if the cancerous tumor is fast growing, invades deeply into the muscle of the uterus or involves blood vessels.

Brachytherapy is another form of radiation that involves the internal application of radiation, usually to the inner lining of the uterus. Brachytherapy has significantly fewer side effects than conventional radiation therapy. However, brachytherapy treats only a small area of the body.

Hormone Therapy

If the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, synthetic progestin, a form of the hormone progesterone, may stop it from growing. The progestin used in treating endometrial cancer is administered in higher doses than is used in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women. Other medications may be used as well.

Treatment with progestin may be an option for women with early endometrial cancer who want to have children and, therefore, do not want to have a hysterectomy. However, this approach is not without the risk that the cancer will return. 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. In some cases, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy for endometrial cancer. You may receive chemotherapy drugs by pill (orally) or through your veins (intravenously). These drugs enter your bloodstream and then travel through your body, killing cancer cells outside the uterus.

Last updated: 5/26/2010 3:10:33 PM