Womb cancer treatment options

The main treatment for womb cancer is surgery. Other treatments you might have include:

  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • hormone therapy

You might have one or more of these treatments.

Deciding which treatment you need

Your doctor will talk to you about the treatment they suggest. They will explain its benefits and the possible side effects.

Your treatment will depend on:

  • where your cancer is
  • how big it is and whether it has spread (the stage)
  • the type of cancer
  • how abnormal the cells look under a microscope (the grade)
  • your general health and level of fitness

Treatment by cancer stage

Stage 1 and 2

Surgery is the main treatment for early stage womb cancer. Generally, your surgeon removes your womb and cervix (hysterectomy), and usually both ovaries and fallopian tubes. They might also remove lymph nodes in your pelvis to check for cancer cells.

After surgery, if there is a high risk of your cancer coming back, for example a high grade cancer, you might have:

  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy 

Stage 3

Depending on how far your cancer has spread, you might have surgery to remove the cancer. You then have :

  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy

You usually have chemotherapy and radiotherapy if you can't have surgery. Or you might have hormone therapy.

Stage 4

For some stage 4 cancers, you may have surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible. You might then have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or both.

If you can't have surgery, you might have:

  • hormone treatment
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • a combination of these treatments

Fertility preserving treatment for womb cancer

Most treatments for womb cancer will affect your ability to have children. Hearing this when you haven’t started a family or haven’t finished will be difficult.

Whether it is possible to have fertility preserving treatment will depend on:

  • how big your cancer is and how far it has grown, this is the stage of your cancer
  • how abnormal the cancer cells are, this the grade of your cancer

To have fertility preserving treatment your cancer needs to be at an early stage. This means it needs to be stage 1A, grade 1 womb cancer.

The usual treatment for early stage womb cancer is surgery. This gets rid of the cancer for nearly all those having it. Choosing to have fertility preserving treatment means you aren’t having standard treatment. Your doctor will talk to you about possible risks of not having surgery straight away.

Anyone wanting to have fertility preserving treatment is usually seen at a specialist centre. First, they will want to confirm the stage of your cancer. This means that you will need to have a sample of tissue taken. This is called a biopsy. You will also need to have an MRI scan.

Fertility preserving treatment means taking the hormone treatment progesterone. This aims to shrink the cancer and for some it may go away. Then after six months of hormone treatment you have another biopsy of your womb and MRI scan to check about how well it is working.

If treatment hasn’t worked your doctor will recommend you have surgery to remove the cancer. If it is working you have a chance to get pregnant. Your doctor may refer you to a fertility specialist.

Your doctors will want to see you regularly and you will need tests. This is to monitor the cancer and whether it has grown. 

Once you have had your children, your specialist will recommend that you have surgery to remove your womb.

Clinical trials

Your doctor might ask if you’d like to take part in a clinical trial. Doctors and researchers do trials to make existing treatments better and develop new treatments.

Last reviewed: 
07 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2024
  • ESGO/ESTRO/ESP guidelines for the management of patients with endometrial carcinoma

    Nicole Concin and others

    International Journal of Gynaecological Cancer, 2021, 31:12-39
     

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

    N Columbo and others (2016) 

    Annals of Oncology 27: 16–41

  • BGCS Uterine Cancer Guidelines: Recommendations for Practice 

    S Sundar and others (2017) 

    British Gynaecological Cancer Society  https://bgcs.org.uk/professionals/guidelines.html(Accessed September 2017) 

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