Uterine Cancer Treatment Options
Endometrial cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy
or hormonal therapy. Your medical team may recommend using a combination
of treatments depending on your individual situation.
Your treatment plan will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Stage, grade and subtype (histology)
- Size and location
- Your age and general health condition
The most common treatment for endometrial cancer is surgery. A hysterectomy
(removal of the uterus and cervix) is the standard procedure for treating
endometrial cancer. A staging procedure typically involves removal of
the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and some lymph nodes. In younger women who
still want to have children, it may be possible to treat the cancer without
removing the uterus. A hysterectomy can be performed in one of two ways:
Minimally invasive hysterectomy – Three to six incisions are made
on the abdominal wall to free the uterus, tubes, and ovaries which are
subsequently removed through the vagina. The procedure can be performed
with either a laparoscope or a robot. Lymph nodes may also be removed
at the same time. Hoag is a designated
Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG™) and has gynecologic oncologists who are expertly trained in minimally
invasive approaches including robotic-assisted and laparoscopic surgeries.
- Total abdominal hysterectomy - In this case, the uterus and cervix are
taken out through a traditional incision in the abdomen. Most women with
uterine cancer will also require removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes,
and lymph nodes in the pelvic region.
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses high-energy X-rays or other types
of radiation to stop cancer cells from growing or kill them entirely.
If radiation is necessary, it is generally used following surgery to kill
any remaining cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy used
to treat endometrial cancer:
- External radiation therapy: Uses a machine that directs the radiation towards
an exact area of the body.
- Internal radiation therapy (or brachytherapy): In this situation, only
the lining of the vagina is treated with radiation.
Hoag Radiation Oncology
Hoag Family Cancer Institute offers a state-of-the-art facility for radiation
therapy, equipped with the latest in radiation technology, handled by
an expert team of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, medical dosimetrists,
radiation oncology nurses and radiation therapists. Hoag’s Radiation
Oncology department is the highest volume provider in Orange County, treating
over 100 patients per day.
Learn more about
Hoag Radiation Oncology.
Chemotherapy for endometrial cancer involves the use of drugs to kill cancer
cells. It is usually given intravenously, through the veins, and treatment
may be administered either at the doctor’s office or in an outpatient center.
Chemotherapy can be an effective treatment for endometrial cancer that
has spread outside the uterus because it travels through the bloodstream,
reaching all parts of the body. However, the same drugs that kill cancer
cells can also damage healthy cells. Chemotherapy is generally given in
cycles, with periods of treatment alternating with periods of rest.
Certain types of endometrial cancer are stimulated by estrogen and progesterone.
In these cases, hormone therapy is an option for treatment.
Hormone therapy blocks the activity of female hormones, or removes them
altogether, as a way of preventing endometrial cancer cells from getting
or using the hormones they may need to grow. It is most often taken as
a pill, but can be given as a shot as well.
Before beginning treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor and
medical team about potential side effects and discuss your concerns.