There are several treatment options for endometrial (uterine) cancer. Most women are treated with surgery. Some have radiation, and a smaller number have hormonal therapy. Some patients receive a combination of the following therapies:
Most women with uterine cancer require surgery to remove the uterus, called a hysterectomy
. This is done through an incision in the abdomen. The doctor also usually removes both ovaries and both fallopian tubes, called a bilaterial salpingo-oophorectomy
. The doctor may also remove nearby lymph nodes to check for cancer.
If cancer cells have not spread beyond the endometrium, the patient may not need any other treatment.
A large machine directs external radiation at the tumor area and uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Internal radiation therapy is also used to treat uterine cancer. Tiny tubes containing radioactive substance are inserted through the vagina and left in place for a few days. The patient stays in the hospital during this treatment and may not be allowed visitors during this time to protect others from radiation exposure. Some patients need both external and internal radiation.
This treatment involves substances that prevent cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. If the uterine tissue has estrogen and progesterone receptors, the patient is more likely to respond to hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is a type of progesterone taken as a pill. It can affect cancer cells throughout the body. Doctors may use this therapy for patients who are unable to have surgery or radiation, or for patients with uterine cancer that has spread or returned.
Follow-up care after treatment for uterine cancer is an important part of the overall treatment plan. Even when there are no longer any signs of cancer, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remained somewhere in the body after treatment.
Your doctor will monitor your recovery and check for recurrence of the cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. Checkups may include a physical exam, a pelvic exam, x-rays, and laboratory tests.
Social networking and online support groups are important tools. Reaching out to others who have or have had similar experiences can provide you with valuable insights. Check out Cancer Support Community's The Living Room
for more information on clinically facilitated support online.