Endometrial Cancer Treatments
The best treatment of endometrial cancer requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Aurora cancer patients benefit from multidisciplinary case reviews, which can include specialists from various disciplines.
- Cancer Nurse Navigator: a registered nurse with special training who can help answer questions and provide information on resources and support services.
- Gynecologic oncologist: an obstetrician/gynecologist with additional fellowship training and board certification in the study and treatment of cancers of the reproductive system.
- Pathologist: a physician who examines tissues and cells under a microscope to determine if they are normal or abnormal.
- Radiation oncologist: a physician specializing in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
- Radiologist: a physician who uses X-rays and other imaging tests to diagnose disease.
Treatment plans are customized for each patient by our team of experts and may include cancer surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Your diagnosis, cancer staging, general health and child-bearing preferences may play a role in deciding the appropriate treatments. In most cases, endometrial cancer treatments prevent future pregnancies, but other options are sometimes considered to preserve fertility. Removing your ovaries and uterus will also cause the onset of menopause.
- Open surgery: an incision several inches in length is made in the abdomen to provide access to the reproductive organs. A simple hysterectomy removes your uterus and cervix. An abdominal hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. A radical hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and tissue around the uterus.
- Vaginal hysterectomy: the uterus is removed through a small incision at the top of your vagina.
- Laparoscopy: this minimally invasive procedure can be performed to remove some cancers or sample lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. Pain and recovery time are greatly reduced with minimally invasive procedures. It involves only a few very small incisions to allow a viewing scope, camera and special surgical instruments to be inserted to perform the surgery. Your uterus may still be removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina.
- Robotic surgery: this minimally invasive procedure is similar to a laparoscopy but uses the precision of robotics coupled with magnified views and the surgeon's skills to perform a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill additional cancer cells. In some cases, chemotherapy or radiation is used to shrink the tumor before surgery.
External beam radiation uses a special machine outside the body to send beams of high-energy X-rays through your skin to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used by itself or with surgery. A course of radiation treatment may be done five days per week for several weeks. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, cramping, loss of appetite, skin irritation and fatigue.
Another option is Brachytherapy in which small amounts of radioactive material are inserted into or around the cancer, typically through the vagina. It is more targeted, affecting less healthy tissue than external beam radiation, and may use a higher radiation dosage so fewer treatments are required. Side effects may include fatigue, vaginal irritation, abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
Sometimes injections or pills may be provided to help prevent or slow the growth of endometrial cancer by blocking the hormones cancer needs to grow. Side effects may include appetite changes, fatigue, hot flashes, weight changes and changes in sexual desire.
Chemotherapy is not always used for endometrial cancer, but systemic anti-cancer drugs can be given by mouth or injected through a vein. They affect your whole body to help control the cancer's spreading to other organs. Side effects may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, mouth sores and vaginal sores. Chemotherapy is typically given regularly for a few weeks and may be repeated after a rest period.\
Clinical trials offer additional treatment options for some patients. Some promising new treatments may be available only in a research setting. Aurora offers access to these clinical trials of therapies that might not be widely available elsewhere.
Aurora offers other treatments and palliative care to maintain quality of life during and after cervical cancer treatments. Reducing disease symptoms, managing treatment side effects, maximizing comfort and taking advantage of complementary therapies are part of the mission of the Cancer Counseling Center.