Endometrial Cancer (cont.)
Endometrial Cancer Treatment
The treatment of endometrial cancer varies depending on the stage of the cancer. Staging is based on the findings from the initial surgery, which involves the removal of the entire uterus and cervix (total abdominal hysterectomy), the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. These organs are examined to determine the extent of the cancer (staging). During this operation, cells are collected from the peritoneal cavity and tested for cancer. Usually, the lymph nodes in the pelvis and surrounding areas are removed and examined for cancer. Only then is a decision made about treatment.
Medical Treatment and Medications
Surgery is the main therapy for endometrial cancer. Other options include the following therapies:
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation (like X-rays) to kill cancer cells. The radiation can be given as a beam from a machine outside the body (external beam radiation) or from a tiny source placed inside the body near the cancer (brachytherapy). Radiation may be used for stages II, III, and IV, although the decision to use radiation is based on the extent of disease. Radiation therapy is usually given after surgery to kill any cancer cells remaining in the body. Radiation is also a substitute for surgery in women who cannot undergo surgery because of other medical problems. The main side effects of radiation therapy are fatigue, diarrhea, and frequency of and burning on urination as well as a local skin reaction at the site of radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses potent drugs to kill cancer cells. The advantage of chemotherapy is that it can attack cancer cells anywhere in the body. The main disadvantage of chemotherapy is the side effects that may include nausea, hair loss, fatigue, anemia, increased susceptibility to infection, and damage to organs, such as the kidneys. Chemotherapy is mainly used for advanced endometrial cancer. Although chemotherapy does induce remission in some women, their cancers often return.
- Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy is the use of hormones to fight cancer cells. Hormone therapy is generally used in only advanced and metastatic endometrial cancer.
The most widely used chemotherapy drug in treating endometrial cancer is carboplatin (Paraplatin). Carboplatin is given alone or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. Other drugs used to treat endometrial cancer are paclitaxel (Taxol), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), and doxorubicin (Adriamycin PFS).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/2/2014
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