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Making decisions

Read about making treatment decisions when you have advanced cancer.

Deciding about treatment can be difficult when you have advanced cancer. Treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can help to reduce symptoms and might make you feel better. But they also have side effects that can make you feel unwell for a while.

It helps to understand:

  • what treatment can do for you
  • how it might affect your quality of life
  • what side effects it has

Your doctor or specialist nurse can talk to you about the benefits and possible side effects. You can ask them questions.

You might also find it helps to talk things over with a close relative, a friend or a counsellor at the hospital.

For information and support you can contact our Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Types of treatment

People with advanced womb cancer can have different symptoms depending on where in the body it has spread to. They may include:

  • pain - tell your doctor or nurse if you have pain they can give you something to help
  • tiredness and feeling unwell
  • loss of appetite
  • bowel problems
  • feeling or being sick

Doctors can use radiotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery and chemotherapy to treat womb cancer that has spread or cannot be cured. These can help to control symptoms and the growth of the cancer.

Which treatment you have will depend on:

  • where your cancer has spread
  • the size and number of secondary cancers you have
  • the symptoms the cancer is causing
  • the treatment you have already had
  • your general health

You will also have other more specific treatments that help with any symptoms you have such as pain killers for pain. 

There might be trials of experimental treatments which you could take part in. These might be looking at new treatments, or ways to improve existing treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. You can search our clinical trials database for trials open to women with womb cancer.

Your choices

Your doctor might offer you a choice of treatments. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment with them and ask how they can control any side effects. This helps you make the right decision for you. You also need to think about the other factors involved in each treatment, such as:

  • whether you need extra appointments
  • if you need more tests
  • the distance you need to travel to and from hospital

You might have to make further choices as your situation changes. It helps to find out as much as possible each time. You can stop a treatment whenever you want to if you find it too much to cope with.

Why other women's treatment may be different

You might find other women with womb cancer are having different treatment. This may be because they have a different type of womb cancer, or that their cancer is a different stage.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or specialist nurse any questions about your treatment. It might help to write down a list of questions beforehand, or you could take a close friend or relative to help you remember what was said.

If you decide not to have treatment

You may decide not to have cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. But you can still have medicines to help control symptoms, such as sickness or pain.

Your doctor or nurse will explain what could help you. You can also ask them to refer you to a local symptom control team to give you support at home.

Last reviewed: 
24 Aug 2017
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Blackwell, 2015

  • ESMO-ESGO-ESTRO Consensus Conference on Endometrial Cancer: diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    N Columbo and others (2016) 

    Annals of Oncology 27: 16–41

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