There are many types of uterine cancer treatment, and a patient’s treatment plan may include one or more of these various options. Treatment varies from patient to patient and also depend on factors such as the stage, grade, and type of the tumor.
Staging endometrial (uterine) cancer
Staging is used to describe a cancer’s progression, or extent to which it has spread. The stages of endometrial cancer include:
- Stage 0 – Also called carcinoma in situ or endometrial intraepithelial neoplasia, this is a pre-invasive cancer that hasn’t spread and is found in the surface layer of uterine cells.
- Stage 1 – Cancer is confined to the uterus.
- Stage 2 – Cancer has spread beyond the uterus to the cervix.
- Stage 3 – Cancer has spread beyond the uterus to the pelvic area or lymph nodes.
- Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to the rectum and/or bladder, or to distant organs.
Surgery options for endometrial (uterine) cancer
The most common type of uterine cancer treatment is surgery. At Moffitt, our gynecologic oncologists perform the following procedures to treat uterine, or endometrial, cancer:
- Hysterectomy – Removes the uterus, including the cervix, through the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy) or an incision in the abdomen (total abdominal hysterectomy or total laparoscopic hysterectomy)
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Removes both ovaries and both fallopian tubes
- Radical hysterectomy – Removes the uterus, cervix, a portion of the vagina and possibly the ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or nearby lymph nodes
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy and staging – Uses a small camera and minimally invasive instruments held by the surgeon to remove uterus and biopsies such as lymph nodes.
- Robotic laparoscopic surgery – Similar to hand laparoscopic surgery described above, it utilizes the latest evolution in robot-assisted technology, the da Vinci® Surgical System, to assist with the surgical staging.
Adjuvant therapies for uterine cancer
Even if a patient undergoes surgery, and the gynecologic oncologist is able to remove all of the cancer that is visible at the time, additional uterine cancer treatment might be recommended to attempt to destroy any residual cancer cells. This type of treatment called adjuvant therapy might include:
- Chemotherapy – Drugs are used to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Systemic chemotherapy can be administered orally or injected into a vein so that the drugs can enter the bloodstream and reach cancer cells located throughout the body. Regional chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column or an organ or body cavity to target the cancer cells in that specific area.
- Radiation therapy – High-energy X-rays or other types of radiation are used to destroy cancer cells. External radiation therapy utilizes a machine located outside a patient’s body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy delivers the treatment by way of internal probes or catheters, or less commonly needles, wires, or seeds that are placed directly into a patient’s body, in or near the cancer site.
- Hormone therapy – Some types of cancer cells have receptors that allow certain hormones to attach and stimulate their growth. Drugs or radiation therapy can be used to inhibit the body’s production of these hormones or render them ineffective.
In order to provide the most comprehensive and effective cancer care, the team at Moffitt Cancer Center follows a unique, multispecialty approach guided by evidence-based clinical pathways. In a single location, our patients receive the benefits of working with a cohesive team of experts who collaborate to ensure the best possible care. These experts – including gynecologic oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, fertility preservation specialists, social workers and supportive care providers – meet weekly in an interactive tumor board to evaluate patients and recommend an individualized treatment plan.
Medically reviewed by Robert Wenham, MD, Chair, Gynecologic Oncology Program
If you would like to know more about your uterine cancer treatment options, including innovative clinical trials, call 1-888-663-3488 or access our new patient registration form to schedule an appointment. For the convenience of our patients, we do not require referrals.