Treatment for uterine cancer typically focuses on removing cancerous cells or tumors. Generally, the stage of uterine cancer will determine the type of treatment used. Some patients might receive hormone therapy to remove cancer-producing hormones. For others, radiation therapy might destroy uterine cancer cells. Additionally, removing the uterus or other reproductive organs through a surgical procedure is usually the first treatment for uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer may appear in the lining of the uterus. The cancer may spread into surrounding areas if not treated. To determine the appropriate method for treatment, the gynecologic oncologist—a doctor who treats cancers in the reproductive organs—might make recommendations based on how far the cancer has progressed.
In general, there are three types of treatments for uterine cancer available for a patient. Hormone therapy is usually given during advanced stages of uterine cancer. A patient could receive radiation therapy to prevent the continuous growth of cancer cells. A hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus and other reproductive organs, is used most often as a treatment for uterine cancer.
When a patient receives hormone therapy to treat uterine cancer, the gynecologic oncologist may prescribe medications or give hormone injections. In most cases, this treatment may prevent hormones linked to cancer cells from developing. Hormone therapy usually occurs during stage III or stage IV when the cancer has advanced too far for other treatments to be effective.
During the first three stages of uterine cancer, a patient may receive radiation therapy. This treatment for uterine cancer may also occur when surgery is not a viable option. By using radiation, doses of a radioactive substance may target and kill cancer cells or reduce the size of a tumor. If a patient does have surgery, radiation treatments may follow.
Gynecologic oncologists may use one of two types of radiation therapy as a treatment for uterine cancer: internal or external. Depending on the stage, a patient may receive both radiation treatments. Internal radiation therapy sends a radioactive substance directly into the uterus or other reproductive organs affected by cancer cells. With external radiation therapy, a machine produces the radioactive substance to target the cancer cells.
A hysterectomy is used more often than hormone or radiation therapy and may occur during early or later stages of uterine cancer. In an attempt to remove the cancer completely, the gynecologic oncologist might take out the uterus. More advanced cases might require also removing other reproductive organs such as fallopian tubes, both ovaries and the cervix.