The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and how far it’s spread. It helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.
Stage 3 womb cancer means the cancer has spread outside the womb, but is still within the pelvis. Your doctor may call this locally advanced womb cancer. There are 3 categories of stage 3 womb cancer:
- 3A means the cancer has grown into the outer covering of the womb (the serosa), or to the ovaries or fallopian tubes
- 3B means the cancer has grown into the vagina or the tissues surrounding the womb (parametrium)
- 3C means the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (glands)
The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:
- the type of womb cancer you have
- how the cancer is likely to behave (the grade)
- your general health
- your preferences
Surgery is the main treatment for stage 3 womb cancer if you are otherwise fit and well.
Your surgeon will aim to remove all of the cancer. This usually means they will remove your:
- womb and cervix (hysterectomy)
- both ovaries and fallopian tubes
They may also remove
- the top of your vagina and some of the surrounding tissue
- lymph nodes in your pelvis
The surgeon who does the surgery is a specialist in this type of surgery called a gynaecological oncologist.
Treatment after surgery
You have radiotherapy and possibly chemotherapy after surgery for stage 3 womb cancer. This treatment is to kill off any cancer cells that may be left after surgery, and to help stop the cancer from coming back.
If you can't have surgery
You usually have radiotherapy and chemotherapy, or hormone therapy, if you can't have surgery for stage 3 womb cancer. This might be because you are not fit enough for surgery, your cancer is too difficult to completely remove or you have chosen not to have surgery.
In some cases, you may have chemotherapy first. Sometimes after a few cycles of chemotherapy, the cancer may have shrunk enough to make surgery possible.