Standard treatment for endometrial cancer
Most endometrial cancer is treated with a combination of one or more of the following treatments:
Every treatment has potential risks and side effects. Before any new treatment or surgery, make sure your healthcare team tells you about what to expect.
During surgery, the uterus and cervix (hysterectomy) and often both and ovaries are removed. Sparing the ovaries may be safe for some I, premenopausal patients. Surgery may also include removal of to check for cancer cells. Many endometrial cancer patients may be able to have minimally invasive surgery, which uses small incisions and an instrument called a laparoscope to remove the cancer.
In the case of cancers that have spread into surrounding tissue, the surgeon may not be able to remove all of the cancer. In this case, they may do debulking surgery to remove as much of the cancer as is safely possible. Debulking surgery may be followed by one or more of the treatments listed below.
Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Doctors may recommend radiation therapy to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer coming back after surgery (also known as recurrence). Sometimes, radiation therapy is recommended before surgery or instead of surgery. There are two types of radiation therapies used to treat endometrial cancer:
- External beam radiation is delived from a machine outside your body. During external beam radiation, patients lie on a table while a machine directs radiation to specific points on the body.
- Internal radiation (brachytherapy) involves placing radiation in smalll seeds, wires or a cylinder inside the vagina for a short period of time.
Treatment for endometrial cancer usually includes a combination of chemotherapy drugs. The most common chemotherapy agents used to treat endometrial cancer include:
- Paclitaxel (Taxol)
Hormone therapy used to treat endometrial cancer includes:
- Oral progesterone
- Intrauterine device that releases progesterone
- Megestrol acetate
- 1 cancers are typically treated with surgery. Some patients may also receive radiation or chemotherapy. Hormone therapy may be given to patients who have additional medical problems which prevent surgery.
- 2 cancers are typically treated with surgery and radiation. Some patients may also receive chemotherapy.
- 3 and 4 endometrial cancers are treated with surgery. Most patients will also receive chemotherapy. Radiation may have benefit for some patients with advanced cancer. Tumor testing can help guide decisions about and .
Your healthcare team should explain what you should expect from all treatments, including:
- all of the possible risks and side effects of each treatment.
- which side effects may be serious and how to tell.
- when and who you should call if you experience a side effect.
- what can be done to treat or alleviate each side effect.
Make sure you let your healthcare team know if you experience any side effects of your treatment. For more information about possible treatment side effects, see our section on Cancer Treatment by Treatment Type.
The following organizations offer peer support services for people with or at high risk for endometrial cancer:
- FORCE peer support
- Our Message Boards allow people to connect with others who share their situation. Once you register, you can post on the Diagnosed With Cancer board to connect with other people who have been diagnosed.
- Peer Navigation Program will match you with a volunteer who shares your mutation and situation.
- Private Facebook Group.
- Virtual and in-person support meetings.
- Join a Zoom community group meeting.
- SHARE is a nonprofit that provides support and information for women with breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer.
ECANA is an online resource for Black people with endometrial cancer.