Endometrial Cancer: Treatment Choices
There are various treatment choices for endometrial cancer. Which may work best for you? It depends on a number of factors. These include the location and stage of the cancer. Factors also include your age, overall health, and what side effects you’ll find acceptable. The good news is that endometrial cancer can often be cured.
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function during and after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities.
Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions. He or she can tell you what your treatment choices are, how successful they’re expected to be, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare provider may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more than one, and ask you to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It's important to take the time you need to make the best decision. Get any questions answered and learn as much as you can so you can make the decision that feels right for you.
Understanding the goals of treatment for endometrial cancer
Treatment can often cure endometrial cancer. It usually involves surgery to remove the uterus and the cancer in it.
Types of treatment for endometrial cancer
Treatment options include:
Surgery. Surgery is used to remove the uterus and the cervix. This is called a hysterectomy. It's the most common treatment for endometrial cancer. In most cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed, too. If the cancer has spread from the uterus to nearby tissues, part of the vagina and/or lymph nodes may also be removed.
Radiation therapy. This treatment kills cancer cells with high-energy X-rays. Radiation may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have been missed.
Chemotherapy. This treatment uses one or more medicines to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. They work by attacking rapidly growing cells. Chemo may be given after surgery if the cancer is a type that tends to come back. It may also be used along with radiation in woman who cannot have surgery.
Hormone therapy. Medicines can be used to keep hormones from being made or stop their ability to help cancer cells grow. Hormone therapy may be used in women who cannot have surgery or radiation, or in women who have endometrial cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It can also be used to treat the cancer without taking out the uterus in women who want to preserve fertility.
Biologic therapy. This is also known as immunotherapy. It uses medicines that work like chemicals that your body’s immune system makes. They help your immune system fight the cancer. It may be used along with chemo in women who have more advanced stages of endometrial cancer.
Your healthcare provider may suggest that you have more than one of these types of treatment. This is sometimes called combination therapy.
Newer types of treatment may be available only through a research study. These studies are called clinical trials. Talk with your healthcare provider about what clinical trials may be an option for you. The National Cancer Institute can help you and your healthcare provider find appropriate trials.
Making a decision
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. At first, thinking about treatments options may seem overwhelming. Talk with your doctors and nurses. Make a list of questions. Consider the benefits and possible side effects of each option. Talk with your healthcare provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan. In fact, some insurance companies may require a second opinion. In addition, you may want to involve your family and friends in this process.
October 12, 2017
Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Uterine Neoplasms, Ver 2.2017; April 25, 2017, national Comprehensive Cancer Network
Goodman, Howard, MD,Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS