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Uterine cancer

Uterine cancer treatments

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our multidisciplinary team of uterine cancer experts will answer your questions and recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs.

Common treatments for uterine cancer include:

Gynecologic oncology

As a gynecologic cancer patient exploring treatment options at CTCA®, you’ll meet with a gynecologic oncologist on your first visit. Your gynecologic oncologist will discuss your health and spend time addressing your questions and concerns.

After reviewing your medical records and health history, and performing a pelvic exam, your gynecologic oncologist will order the appropriate diagnostic tests to determine the recommended course of treatment. These may include biopsies and imaging scans, as well as blood tests.

You will meet with your gynecologic oncologist again soon to discuss the test results. At that time, your gynecologic oncologist will discuss the treatment options available to you, as well as the ways in which supportive care services may be incorporated into your treatment plan.

Our gynecologic oncology team develops individualized treatment plans using evidence-based medicine, tailoring a program to each patient. Your treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy or therapy with a monoclonal antibody. It all depends on your unique case and preferences.

Once you’ve begun your uterine cancer treatment, you’ll meet with our gynecologic cancer team approximately every three to four weeks. Each time, you’ll undergo a comprehensive set of blood tests and a physical exam. You’ll also have access to every member of your treatment team, which may include a dietitian, naturopathic clinician and care manager.

For women with early uterine cancer, fertility-sparing surgery may be a treatment option. We consider fertility issues for younger women, and we provide support for all women who experience sexual side effects as a result of uterine cancer treatment, through our Survivorship Support program.

If you want to preserve your fertility during uterine cancer treatment, your gynecological oncologist can discuss with you a variety of fertility-sparing procedures and whether they may be right for you.

Surgery

Depending on the type and stage of cancer, as well as your individual fertility concerns, we may perform a variety of uterine cancer surgical procedures, including:

Simple hysterectomy: This is the most common type of hysterectomy for uterine cancer. During a simple hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed.

Radical hysterectomy: This type of uterine cancer surgery involves removing the uterus, cervix and ovaries, as well as all of the surrounding tissue (the parametria) and the upper part of the vagina. This is sometimes used when the cancer has spread to the cervix.

Lymphadenectomy: The lymph nodes in the pelvis may also be removed. Your doctor may remove lymph nodes as part of a hysterectomy to stage the cancer to determine if the cancer has spread and if additional treatment will be needed.

If you want to preserve your fertility, your gynecologic oncology expert may refer you to a fertility expert to preserve your ovaries or eggs. Patients battling more complex diseases may not be candidates for this option. We will discuss a variety of fertility-sparing procedures with you.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, which uses drugs designed to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors, is an important part of treatment for many uterine cancer patients at CTCA, whether they have received previous chemotherapy treatments elsewhere or not.

Our gynecologic oncologists treat uterine cancer with a comprehensive and personalized approach, which may include using various chemotherapy drug combinations.

Another uterine cancer treatment option we offer is hormone therapy, which slows the growth of cancer cells by reducing hormone levels in the body. This type of hormone therapy may be used alone or in combination with surgery and other therapies, depending on the type and stage of the disease.

At CTCA, we use innovative approaches in uterine cancer hormone therapy, attacking the disease on multiple fronts with a variety of drugs. A common regimen may include progestins, which are a synthetic form of progesterone that slows or stops the growth of uterine cancer cells. Other drugs reduce estrogen levels or block its effect on cancer cells, including tamoxifen and gonadoptropin-releasing hormone agonists.

Our supportive care services help manage side effects of cancer hormone therapy, like hot flashes and low libido. We anticipate side effects by focusing on prevention, and manage them with a variety of approaches if they do occur. All of this is integrated into your overall uterine cancer treatment plan, with personalized support for you and your family.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy drugs are designed to stimulate the immune system to help it work better or by making cancer cells easier to recognize, exposing them to a potential attack.

Checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking receptors that allow cancer cells to disguise themselves from the immune system. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a checkpoint inhibitor drug to treat patients with inoperable metastatic endometrial cancer with genetic features called microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR). These features may make it difficult for DNA in some cells to repair itself, which could lead to uncontrolled cell growth that produces tumors.MSI-H and dMMR may be found in patients with Lynch syndrome, a condition that elevates the risk for some cancers, including endometrial cancer.

Immunotherapy may not be used to treat all patients, and in some cases, it may only be used when other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are not producing positive results. In some cases, immunotherapy drugs may be used in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery.

Radiation therapy

We use a highly targeted form of radiation therapy to treat uterine cancer, along with other innovative treatments, like chemotherapy and hormone therapy, to fight against the growth of new cancer cells.

By focusing the radiation directly on the tumor or tumor bed, these therapies reduce the risk of developing common radiation side effects, including issues related to gastrointestinal and sexual function.

Specific technologies include:

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) directs a beam of radiation from outside the body at cancerous tissues inside the body. It is a cancer treatment option that uses doses of radiation to destroy cancerous cells and shrink tumors. Targeted EBRT helps to lower the risk of gastrointestinal and sexual function side effects typically associated with radiation treatment for uterine cancer. Some additional advantages of EBRT may include:

  • It’s a fast, painless outpatient procedure.
  • It does not carry the standard risks or complications of surgery, such as surgical bleeding, post-operative pain, or the risk of stroke, heart attack or blood clot.
  • Unlike chemotherapy, which circulates through the body, ERBT is targeted to the area being treated.

High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers radiation from implants placed close to, or inside, the tumor(s) in the body. Because cancer often affects organs and other essential structures, it is important for radiation treatment to be tightly focused on tumors to minimize serious side effects. This technique ensures the maximum radiation dose is given to cancerous tissues, while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. At CTCA, we may combine HDR brachytherapy with EBRT and chemotherapy to treat uterine cancer.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) uses advanced software to plan a precise dose of radiation, based on tumor size, shape and location. A computer-controlled device called a linear accelerator delivers radiation in sculpted doses that match the 3D geometrical shape of the tumor, including concave and complex shapes.

If you have previously had radiation therapy for uterine cancer and are experiencing recurrent tumors in the treated area, IMRT may be an option for you. Compared to standard radiotherapy, IMRT allows our radiation oncologists to use higher radiation doses than traditional therapies would allow in these areas. At the same time, IMRT helps to spare more of the surrounding healthy uterine tissue from harmful doses of radiation.

Next topic: What are the top questions about uterine cancer?