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About hormone therapy for womb cancer

Women discussing womb cancer

This page is about treating womb cancer with hormone therapies. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Hormone therapy for womb cancer

Hormones occur naturally in the body. They control the growth and activity of our cells. The female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, can affect growth of the cells in the womb lining. Progesterone treatment can shrink larger womb cancers or cancers that have come back. Up to 25 out of every 100 advanced womb cancers (25%) respond well to progesterone.

Doctors use progesterone mainly to treat stage 3 and 4 womb cancers, particularly if the cancer has spread to the lungs. You take progesterone as a tablet. The main side effects of progesterone therapy are water retention and weight gain, breast discomfort, tiredness, feeling sick and loss of sex drive. Most people only have 1 or 2 of these side effects. If you have side effects, tell your nurse or doctor. They may be able to help.

For a type of womb cancer called endometrial stromal sarcoma, hormonal treatments such as tamoxifen, letrozole (Femara), megestrol acetate (Megace) and medroxyprogesterone (Provera) can work well.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating womb cancer section.

 

 

What hormonal therapy is

Hormones are substances that occur naturally in the body. They control the growth and activity of our cells. The female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, can affect growth of the cells in the womb lining.

 

Progesterone

Progesterone treatment can shrink larger womb cancers or cancers that have come back. Up to 25 out of every 100 advanced womb cancers (25%) respond well to progesterone.

Doctors use progesterone mainly to treat stage 3 and 4 womb cancers, particularly if the cancer has spread to the lungs. You take progesterone as a tablet. The most commonly used types of progesterone are called medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) and megestrol (Megace). The hormone goes into the bloodstream, travels around the body and slows the growth of womb cancer cells.

A Cochrane review looked at whether hormone therapy helped women with advanced womb cancer live longer. They found that the trials so far have not been able to show that it does. They recommend that women only have hormone therapy to help relieve symptoms. They also recommend that more research is carried out to find out how well hormone treatment works in improving women’s quality of life with advanced womb cancer.

 

Hormone therapy for endometrial stromal sarcoma

For a type of womb cancer called endometrial stromal sarcoma, hormonal treatments can work well. These include 

 

Possible side effects of hormonal therapy

The main side effects associated with hormone therapy for womb cancer are

  • Water retention
  • Weight gain (caused by the water retention)
  • Breast discomfort
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sick
  • Loss of desire for sex

Most people only have one or two of these side effects. If you have side effects, tell your nurse or doctor. They may be able to help.

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Updated: 6 October 2014