Uterine cancer is a cancer that develops in the cells of the uterus. Responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 American women each year, uterine cancer is a dangerous disease. Fortunately, if found in the early stages, it is still highly treatable.
Once you are diagnosed, your treatment options for uterine cancer will depend on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as your overall health and personal preferences. Here is a look at some of most common treatment options.
This is the most recommended treatment route, as removing the uterus will often cure early-stage uterine cancers. The most common surgical procedures for uterine cancer include:
- Hysterectomy: Most women with uterine cancer will undergo a hysterectomy, which is a procedure to remove the uterus. This will make it impossible for you to ever become pregnant in the future.
- Salpingo-oophorectomy: Along with a hysterectomy, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are often removed as well. This will cause you to experience menopause, if you haven’t already.
While you are in surgery, this will give your surgeon the opportunity to inspect the areas around your uterus to see if the cancer has spread. It is also common for the surgeon to remove lymph nodes in the area for testing, which will help determine what stage your cancer is in.
Similarly to X-rays, radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells in a localized area. Radiation therapy may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Radiation may also be used to help control the pain for advanced or inoperable uterine cancer. There are different types of radiation therapy, including:
- External: This involves radiation from a machine outside of your body that is directly pointing to a specific part of your body.
- Internal: Also called brachytherapy, this involves placing a device filled with radioactive material inside your vagina for short periods of time.
Chemotherapy involves receiving medications either orally or intravenously that travel throughout your body and kill any cancer cells. This is a more common treatment for advanced uterine cancer that has spread beyond the uterus to other parts of the body.
This involves taking supplements that will attempt to restore balance to your body’s hormone levels. This is also more common for uterine cancer that has spread beyond the uterus. Hormone therapy might be used for different reasons, including:
- To decrease estrogen: Some forms of uterine cancer rely on estrogen to help them grow, so if the levels of estrogen are lowered, then it could cause the cancer cells to die in response.
- To increase progesterone: Taking synthetic progestin can help stop cancer cells in the uterus from growing and multiplying.