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Once uterine cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.
Surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding 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 options. At Houston Methodist, most of these procedures can be performed through minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopy and robotic surgery.
- Simple Hysterectomy (also called Total Hysterectomy): The surgeon removes the whole uterus, including the cervix, but leaves the loose connective tissue around the uterus (parametrium), the tissue connecting the uterus and sacrum (uterosacral ligaments), and the vagina intact. The uterus can be removed through an incision in the abdomen, through the vagina, or laparoscopically through several small incisions.
- Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy: The surgeon removes both fallopian tubes and both ovaries; this is often done at the same time as a hysterectomy.
- Lymph Node Dissection: The surgeon 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: The surgeon 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, usually reserved for patients in whom cancerous cells have also been found in the cervix.
The hospital stay for an abdominal hysterectomy is usually 3–5 days, and complete recovery takes about 4–6 weeks. Laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomies usually require a hospital stay of 1–2 days and a recovery period of 2–3 weeks.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area. For treating uterine cancer, it may be used before or after surgery, or as an alternative if you cannot have surgery for medical reasons.
There are two main types of radiation therapy available to treat uterine cancer:
- External Radiation Therapy: A large machine directs radiation at your pelvis or other areas where cancerous cells have appeared. Sessions takes only a few minutes each and usually occur 5 days a week for several weeks.
- Internal Radiation Therapy (also called Brachytherapy): A narrow cylinder is inserted into the vagina and 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.
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells using drugs that are given through a vein and may be used after surgery to treat uterine cancer that has a high probability of returning. The side effects depend on the types and amount of medication given.
Some uterine tumors have hormone receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone or both, and they need these hormones to grow. If lab tests show that a uterine tumor has these receptors, then hormone therapy may be considered. Hormone therapy is only recommended as an option for patients who are not able to have radiation or chemotherapy treatments, or who have Stage I uterine cancer and want to preserve their fertility.
Learn more about uterine cancer:
- About Uterine Cancer
- Diagnosing Uterine Cancer
- Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine
- Uterine Cancer Resources
- Uterine Cancer Clinical Trials
- Our Uterine Cancer Specialists and Staff
For more information about uterine cancer treatment at the Methodist Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call us at 713-790-2700.