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. Lymph nodes near the uterus may be examined to find out if cancer has spread outside of the uterus.
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:
- Surgery to remove the uterus (and cervix), ovaries, and fallopian tubes (hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy).
- Surgery to remove lymph nodes.
- Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.
- Progestin hormone therapy to block cancer growth.
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells.
Additional information about endometrial cancer is provided by the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/endometrial/Patient.
Studies called clinical trials can be an option for women who don't want or aren't cured by standard treatments. Talk with your doctor to see if clinical trials are available and to find out if you are a good candidate.
Endometrial cancer may come back (recur), so regular followup after your initial treatment is very important. Your doctor will set up a regular schedule of checkups that will happen less often as time goes on.
Most of the time when endometrial cancer comes back after treatment, a woman will have symptoms. These include:4
- Bleeding from the vagina, bladder, or rectum.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Pain in your belly, hip, or back.
- Shortness of breath.
- Swelling in your belly or legs.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away and don't wait for your next scheduled appointment.
Sexual problems and body changes
Your feelings about 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 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 estrogen. 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 Menopause and Perimenopause.
- An increased risk of heart disease and changes in your bones, such as osteoporosis.
Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have a serious illness. It's different from care to cure your illness. Its goal is to improve your quality of life-not just in your body but also in your mind and spirit. You can have this care along with treatment to cure your illness.
Palliative care providers will work to help control pain or side effects. They may help you decide what treatment you want or don't want. And they can help your loved ones understand how to support you.
If you're interested in palliative care, talk to your doctor.
For more information, see the topic Palliative Care.
For some people who have advanced cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure the 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 you can still get treatment to make you as comfortable as possible during the time you have left. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.
For more information, see the topics: