Endometrial 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
Surgery for Endometrial Cancer
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 for Endometrial Cancer
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 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
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.
Hormonal Therapy for Endometrial Cancer
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.
Through innovative clinical trials, Hoag works to advance treatment options and improve healthcare by exploring the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, therapies, medical devices, and clinical and surgical methods. This ongoing collaboration between physician investigators and study volunteers is one of the foundations of modern health care because clinical trials help set the standards for patient care. Learn more about the clinical trials available at Hoag.