One factor that influences a patient’s endometrial cancer treatment options is the stage of her malignancy at the time of diagnosis. While other factors such as a woman’s overall health, health care preferences and specific type of cancer will also affect her ideal course of treatment, it is often helpful for women who have just been diagnosed with endometrial cancer to gain some general knowledge about what their treatment plan may look like based on the stage of their cancer.
Stage 1 endometrial cancer has not spread beyond the uterus. In many cases, surgery to remove the uterus, and often the ovaries, is recommended. Those who have higher grade tumors may also need additional treatment such as radiation therapy or vaginal brachytherapy. For women who want to maintain their ability to have children, fertility-sparing treatments such as progestin therapy may be tried first.
Stage 2 endometrial cancer has spread to the cervix but still has not spread beyond the uterus. Treatment for this stage often includes the removal of the uterus, surrounding tissues, upper portion of the vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes and lymph nodes in the pelvis. Radiation therapy is often given following the surgery. Chemotherapy, often with the drugs paclitaxel and carboplatin, is sometimes administered for women with high-grade cancers.
Stage 3 endometrial cancer has spread beyond the uterus, often to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina or lymph nodes in the pelvis. Surgery is often recommended first to remove as much of the cancer as possible, though sometimes the cancer has spread too far to make surgery an option. A combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy are typically also used.
Stage 4 endometrial cancer has spread to the bladder or bowel, or to the lymph nodes outside the pelvic region and other distant organs. In most cases of stage 4 endometrial cancer, surgery is not an option, as the cancer has spread too far to be removed. In some cases, the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes may still be removed to prevent excessive bleeding. A combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy are often used.
If you have recently been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, we invite you to meet with a physician at Moffitt Cancer Center to discuss your treatment options. Our cancer experts ensure each patient’s treatment plan is tailored to address their individual case. You can request a consultation by calling 1-888-663-3488 or submitting a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.