Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Treatment

Massey’s Gynecologic Oncology Center is led by board-certified gynecologic oncologists who are uniquely trained to diagnosis cancers, perform surgery, administer radiation and provide follow-up treatment. With these highly qualified individuals, you care is closely managed.

Treatment for endometrial cancer

Specific treatment for endometrial cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your overall health and medical history.
  • Extent of the disease. 
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. 
  • Expectations for the course of the disease. 
  • Your opinion, preference or goals.

The stage of the cancer is determined by the findings at the time of surgery. Findings on physical examination, chest X-ray and sometimes a CAT scan also may be used. Generally, treatment for patients with cancer of the endometrium includes one or more of these alternatives.

  • Surgery affords the best outcomes for women with endometrial cancer and may include:
    • Hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus and cervix.
    • Salpingo-oophorectomy – the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. 
    • Lymph node dissection – the removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis and para-aortic area.
  • Radiation therapy– the use of energy beams to kill cancer cells. There are two ways to deliver radiation therapy, including the following:
    • External radiation (external beam therapy) – a treatment that precisely sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells. The machine is controlled by the radiation therapist. Since radiation is used to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors, special shields may be used to protect the tissue surrounding the treatment area. Radiation treatments are painless and usually last a few minutes.
    • Internal radiation (brachytherapy, implant radiation) – radiation is given inside the body as close to the cancer as possible. Tiny tubes that contain substances that produce radiation, called radioisotopes, are inserted through the vagina and left in place for a period of time. Internal radiation involves giving a higher dose of radiation in a shorter time span than with external radiation. Hospitalization may be required when an internal radiation implant is in place. In some cases, both internal and external radiation therapies are used.
  • Hormone therapy – in some cases, hormones can kill cancer cells, slow the growth of cancer cells, or stop cancer cells from growing.

Before you begin hormone therapy, your physician may test the cancer cells for hormone receptors. This lab test is performed on the uterine tissue to determine if estrogen and progesterone receptors are present. A hormone receptor test can help to predict whether cancer cells are sensitive to hormones.

Progesterone (pill) may be given as hormone therapy for endometrial cancer. Tamoxifen also may be used to treat advanced endometrial cancer.

  • Chemotherapy– chemotherapy drugs given through an IV every three to four weeks is playing an increasingly important role in the management of endometrial cancer. These drugs may include:
    • A taxane, such as Taxol or Taxotere 
    • Adriamycin 
    • A platinum, such as Cisplatin or Carboplatin

Participation in a clinical trial

Ask your physician if a clinical trial exists for your particular situation.