Uterine Cancer Treatment
Treating women’s cancers with expertise and compassion.
There are many treatment choices for uterine cancer. Which one may work best for you depends on a number of things, such as:
- The exact type of cancer you have
- The amount and location of the cancer (called the cancer stage)
- The speed at which the cancer is growing (called the grade of the cancer)
- Your age
- Your overall health
- Your personal concerns and preferences, like whether you want to have children and what side effects you’ll find acceptable
You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may want to know how you’ll feel, how your body will work after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities. You might have questions about your fertility and sexual health, too. Be sure to talk with your healthcare team about anything that worries you. Know what to expect during and after cancer treatment.
Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions. They can explain what your treatment choices are. They can tell you how well treatment is expected to work and how much it's likely to cost. They can also tell you what the risks and side effects may be.
Your provider may suggest a specific treatment. Or they may offer more than one and ask you to decide which treatment you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It's important to take the time you need to make the best decision.
Understanding the goals of treatment for uterine cancer
Treatment may control or cure uterine cancer. It can also improve your quality of life by helping to control the symptoms caused by the cancer. The goal of uterine cancer treatment is to do one or more of these things:
- Remove the primary (main) cancer tumor in the uterus
- Kill the cancer cells or stop them from growing and spreading
- Keep the cancer from coming back or delay its return
- Ease symptoms of the cancer, such as pain or pressure on nearby organs
Each type of treatment has a different goal. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment goals so you know what to expect.
Uterine cancer treatment options
There are several standard treatments for uterine cancer. Many people undergo a combination of treatments.
Surgery is the removal of the cancer. For uterine cancer, surgery is the primary treatment. There are many options:
- Total hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus and cervix.
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy involves removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
- Radical hysterectomy includes the removal of the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina. May also include ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or nearby lymph nodes.
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy is the removal and examination of the sentinel lymph node to see if cancer has spread. A positive result means cancer may be present in other lymph nodes or organs.
Legacy Cancer Institute surgeons are trained in minimally invasive techniques, including robotic surgery. These methods may allow you to recover more quickly from procedures such as hysterectomy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be one of two types:
- External radiation uses a machine outside the body and aims radiation toward the cancer.
- Brachytherapy uses a radioactive material placed in the body, directly in contact with the tumor, so healthy tissues have less exposure to radiation. Brachytherapy can also be called implant radiation therapy, internal radiation therapy or radiation brachytherapy. Legacy’s technologically advanced brachytherapy program is the largest and most experienced in the region. Learn about brachytherapy
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer (also called biologic therapy). Substances from the body or made in a lab are used to trigger an immune response. They boost, restore or direct your own natural defense against cancer.
Hormone therapy slows or stops the growth of cancer by blocking or interfering with hormones, which are chemical messengers that control bodily functions like the reproductive system. Hormone therapy can be given as a pill or injection. A surgeon may also remove organs that produce hormones.
Targeted therapy: Different than traditional chemotherapy, this treatment can help stop cancer from growing and spreading by targeting specific genes or proteins.
Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating uterine cancer. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.
Experts in treating uterine and endometrial cancer
Legacy Cancer Institute, located in Portland, OR, ranks among the nation’s best cancer programs. Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists who work together to diagnose and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Find the right provider and treatment close to home.
Legacy Cancer Institute is accredited as an integrated network cancer program by the American College of surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Learn more about our quality cancer care.
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Working together for you
Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.
A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.
Legacy Health collaborates with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to advance cancer care in our region. By working together, you benefit from the strength of both leaders in cancer care. As an integrated community cancer program for adults, we make sure that you have access to the latest treatments, technology and research available.
What happens next
Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these symptoms in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.
To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.