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Hormone therapy

You might have hormone therapy for advanced womb cancer.

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 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. The most commonly used types of progesterone are called medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) and megestrol (Megace). You take these as tablets.

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. One reason for this might be that these trials did not involve large enough groups of women to look at the issue of survival properly.

The review recommends that women only have hormone therapy to help relieve symptoms. And that research should continue to look at the benefits of hormone therapy in these women.  

Hormone therapy for endometrial stromal sarcoma

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

These include:

  • tamoxifen
  • letrozole (Femara)
  • megestrol acetate (Megace)
  • medroxyprogesterone (Provera)

Possible side effects of hormonal therapy

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

  • water retention
  • weight gain (caused by 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 might be able to help.

Last reviewed: 
06 Sep 2017
  • ESMO-ESGO-ESTRO Consensus Conference on Endometrial Cancer: diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    N Columbo and others (2016) 

    Annals of Oncology 27: 16–41

  • Hormonal therapy in advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer.
    F Kokka F, E Brockbank, D Oram and others
    The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010, Volume 12

  • Phase II study of medroxyprogesterone acetate plus metformin as a fertility-sparing treatment for atypical endometrial hyperplasia and endometrial cancer

    A Mitsuhashi and others (2016) 

    Annals of oncology Feb;27(2):262-6

  • BGCS Uterine Cancer Guidelines: Recommendations for Practice 

    S Sundar and others (2017) 

    British Gynaecological cancer society 

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