Treatment & Procedures
Surgery to remove the uterus and any affected tissue is the most common treatment for uterine cancer. Depending on the stage of the cancer, your physician may recommend one or more of several types of surgery. At Houston Methodist Cancer Center, most of these procedures can be performed through minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopy and robotic surgery.
- Simple hysterectomy (also called total hysterectomy) involves removal of the whole uterus, including the cervix, but leaves intact the loose connective tissue around the uterus (parametrium), the tissue connecting the uterus and sacrum (uterosacral ligaments), and the vagina. The uterus can be removed through the vagina or through a small incision in the abdomen.
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy involves removal of both fallopian tubes and both ovaries. This is often done at the same time as a hysterectomy.
- Lymph-node dissection removes the lymph nodes in the pelvis and around the aorta (the main artery that runs from the heart down into the abdomen). This is often done at the same time as a hysterectomy.
- Radical hysterectomy removes the entire uterus in addition to the parametrium and uterosacral ligaments, as well as the upper part of the vagina. This procedure is rarely performed to treat uterine cancer and is usually done if cancerous cells have also been found in the cervix.
The hospital stay for an abdominal hysterectomy is usually three to five days, and complete recovery takes about four to six weeks. Laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomies usually require a hospital stay of only one to two days and a recovery period of two to three weeks.
Learn more about surgery, including the roles that different surgical approaches have in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area. In the treatment of uterine cancer, radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery, or as an alternative treatment if surgery is not an option.
There are two main types of radiation therapy available to treat uterine cancer:
- External radiation therapy uses a large machine to direct radiation at your pelvis or other areas where cancerous cells have appeared. Sessions take only a few minutes each and usually occur five days a week for several weeks.
- Internal radiation therapy (also called brachytherapy) involves insertion of a narrow cylinder into the vagina. A radioactive substance is loaded into the cylinder. Once the cylinder is removed, no radioactivity is left in the body. Treatments last only a few minutes and may be repeated two or three times over several weeks.
Learn more about the variety of innovative radiation therapies offered at Houston Methodist.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells using drugs that are given intravenously by IV or orally. You may receive your chemotherapy treatments in a clinic, at your doctor’s office or at home if oral medication is prescribed. The side effects depend on the types and amount of medication given.
Learn more about chemotherapy treatment, including how it works within your body and what to expect while undergoing treatment.