Get notified of page updates
Glossary on
off

Surgery to lower endometrial cancer risk

This section covers the following topics:

Note that when we use "women" we are referring to the sex you were assigned at birth.

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus to treat or prevent disease. "Risk-reducing hysterectomy" refers to the removal of the healthy uterus to reduce a person's risk of developing cancer. Often the cervix is also removed during this surgery. Research on hysterectomy in high-risk women has shown that:

  • hysterectomy is an effective way to lower the risk for endometrial cancer
  • hysterectomy does not increase how long women survive 

Surgery can have risks and side effects. It's important for people to speak with experts in order to learn as much as possible about their endometrial cancer risk and to make an informed decision about the best option for lowering their risk.  

Expert guidelines on hysterectomy to lower risk

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), is an organization of cancer experts that creates guidelines on cancer care and updates them yearly. NCCN's guidelines discuss the benefits and limitations for risk-reducing hysterectomy in women with an linked to endometrial cancer and which women are most likely to benefit from the surgery. The NCCN guidelines include "consider risk-reducing hysterectomy" for women who have completed their childbearing and who have an inherited mutations in the following genes:

Removal of the ovaries and tubes during risk-reducing hysterectomy

In addition to their increased risk for endometrial cancer, women with mutations in the following genes are also at increased risk for ovarian cancer:

Experts recommend that people with mutations in these genes have a conversation with their surgeon about the benefits and risks of risk-reducing removal of their ovaries and (also known as salpingo-oophorectomy) after childbearing is complete and at the time of risk-reducing hysterectomy. 

Hysterectomy during risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy

Some people who have increased risk for ovarian cancer may choose to remove their uterus at the same time that they undergo risk-reducing removal of their ovaries and . This includes people with mutations in the following genes:

You can read more about the benefits and risks of this decision in our section on surgery to lower and ovarian cancer risk.  

Vaginal or open surgery

Hysterectomy may be performed using an incision through the vagina (known as vaginal hysterectomy) or through an incision in the lower abdomen (known as laparotomy). 

  • Open surgery (also known as a laparotomy) involves one incision in the lower abdomen to remove the uterus.
  • vaginal surgery involves an incision from the vagina into the pelvic area to remove the uterus. This surgery requires a shorter recovery time than open surgery. Most risk-reducing surgeries can be performed vaginally. 

Surgical risks

Every surgery has potential risks; some are more serious than others. Some hysterectomy risks can affect recovery. 

  • Infection
  • Delayed healing
  • Blood loss
  • Blood clots
  • Pain (post-operative and long term pain syndromes)
  • Injury to internal organs
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Sexual side effects

It is important for people to discuss possible surgical risks with a surgeon to understand the seriousness and likelihood of these risks before making the decision to have risk-reducing surgery.

Recovery

Average recovery time after hysterectomy is about 1-2 weeks.

Last updated April 09, 2023

Find Experts
Find Experts

The following resources can help you locate an expert near you.

Finding gynecologists with expertise in cancer risk and treatment

Related experts

Some symptoms and conditions related to female reproduction may be managed by other experts. 

Fertility experts

  • The Oncofertility Consortium maintains a national database of healthcare providers with expertise in fertility preservation and treatment of people who are diagnosed with cancer or have a high risk for cancer due to an .  
  • Livestrong has a listing of 450 sites that offer fertility preservation options for people diagnosed with cancer.
    Financial assistance may be available to make the cost of fertility preservation affordable for more patients. Patients are referred to those programs as needed.

Menopause experts

Sexual health experts

Other ways to find experts

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers deliver cutting-edge cancer care to patients in communities across the United States. Most centers have specialized screening and prevention centers for high-risk people. Find a center near you and learn about its specific research capabilities, programs, and initiatives.
  • Register for the FORCE Message Boards to get referrals from other members. Once you register, you can post on the Find a Specialist board to connect with other people who share your situation.

updated: 04/09/2023

Get Support
Get Support

FORCE offers many peer support programs for people with inherited mutations. 

updated: 08/06/2022