The uterus (womb) is a pear-shaped organ that receives a fertilized egg and protects a baby as it grows. If an egg is not fertilized, the lining (endometrium) of the uterus sheds, resulting in a period. When women go through menopause, the lining of the uterus thins. If a cancer develops, the lining or endometrium becomes thick, causing spotting or bleeding. The majority of endometrial cancers produce abnormal bleeding. However, sometimes, a different type of cancer can develop within the muscle of the uterus itself; this type of cancer is not common.
Endometrial cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer.
Uterine/endometrial cancer is treated by a team of experts, depending on the type of cancer that you have. Typically, surgery is the first treatment option. In some areas of the country, if you have a low grade (FIGO 1) endometrial cancer, your surgery may be done by a general gynecologist. Any other types require a referral to a gynecologic oncologist for assessment and treatment.
Your family doctor or gynecologist will make this referral for you. The cancer centre will then set up an appointment for you. You may see a Gynecologic Oncologist (a specialist in gynecological surgery and chemotherapy/hormone treatment), a Medical Oncologist (a specialist in chemotherapy and hormone treatment) or a Radiation Oncologist (a specialist in radiation therapy).
The oncologist you see will review your case and will recommend and explain the best treatment plan for your situation. This appointment may be overwhelming, so it is best to bring someone with you for support.
There are different types of surgeries that can be done to manage uterine/endometrial cancer including:
• Hysterectomy & Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy
• Hysterectomy & Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy with pelvic and possible para-aortic lymphadenectomy
Other Treatment Options
For some patients, surgery is the only treatment required to manage their endometrial/uterine cancer. For others, depending on the type and location of their cancer, further treatment may be required. This may include such treatments as:
• Intravenous (IV) Chemotherapy
• Clinical Trials
• Radiation External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)
• Hormone Therapy
Canadian Cancer Society
Call or go online to look for:
• Uterine cancer: Understanding your diagnosis
• Eating well when you have cancer
• Chemotherapy and other drug therapies: A guide for people with cancer
• Radiation Therapy: A guide for people with cancer
• When someone you know has cancer: How you can help