Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
Endometrial cancer found in its early stages can often be cured with surgery and close follow-up. Treatment choices depend on where the cancer is and how much it has grown.
Types of treatment
After testing shows that you have endometrial cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. All tissues removed in surgery are examined to find out the stage and grade of the cancer. Reference Lymph nodes Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window near the uterus may be examined to find out if cancer has spread outside of the uterus.Reference 6
You may get more than one type of treatment for endometrial cancer. This depends on the size of the cancer and how the cancer cells look under the microscope. Treatments include:
- Reference Surgery to remove the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy).
- Reference Surgery to remove lymph nodes.
- Reference Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
- Reference Progestin hormone therapy to block cancer growth.
- Reference Chemotherapy Opens New Window to kill cancer cells.
Studies called Reference clinical trials can be an option for women who don't want or aren't cured by standard treatments.
Side effects of treatment
Your quality of life is a critical issue when you are considering your treatment options. Be sure to discuss side effects and your personal preferences with your doctors when they recommend treatment.
- Your surgeon and Reference oncologist Opens New Window will explain the possible side effects of your surgery. If you're still in your childbearing years, a Reference hysterectomy means that pregnancy will no longer be possible.
- Reference Side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, skin irritation, or changes in your bowel or urinary habits.
- Reference Side effects of chemotherapy may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, anemia, or infections.
For information about how to manage side effects, see Reference Home Treatment.
Endometrial cancer may come back (recur). But this isn't likely when the first cancer is found early and is low-risk. Of those cancers that do come back, nearly all do so within 3 years of the first diagnosis. This is why regular follow-up is extremely important after initial treatment.Reference 1 Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups that will happen less often as time goes on.
Additional information about endometrial cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/endometrial.
Coping with emotions
When you first find out that you have cancer, you may feel scared or angry. Or you may feel very calm. It's normal to have a wide range of feelings and for those feelings to change quickly. Some people find that it helps to talk about their feelings with family and friends.
If your Reference emotional reaction to cancer gets in the way of your ability to make decisions about your health, it's important to talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer psychological or financial services. And a local chapter of the American Cancer Society can help you find a support group.
Sexual problems and body changes
Your feelings about Reference your body and your sexuality may change after treatment for cancer. It may help to talk openly with your partner about your feelings. Your doctor may be able to refer you to groups that can offer support and information.
Having cancer treatments such as radiation therapy or a hysterectomy may affect your ability to have or enjoy sex. If you do have Reference sexual problems, talk with your doctor about treatment, information, or a group for support.
If you have not yet reached menopause, your menstrual period will end immediately after most treatments for endometrial cancer. If your uterus and ovaries have been removed or have had radiation therapy, your body will have a decrease in Reference estrogen Opens New Window. This may cause:
- Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, changes in mood, vaginal dryness, and atrophy (shrinking) of pelvic tissues. Talk with your doctor about how to manage your symptoms if they bother you. To learn more, see the topic Reference Menopause and Perimenopause.
- An increased risk of Reference heart disease and changes in your bones, such as Reference osteoporosis.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Reference Palliative care Opens New Window can improve your quality of life by helping you to manage your symptoms. It can also help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.
For some people with advanced-stage cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief.
But this isn't the end of treatment. It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment aimed at prolonging your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for Reference hospice care Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology