Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer of the lining of the uterus, referred to as endometrial cancer, is crucial because it can spread to other organs. Before beginning any treatment, you may want to consult with a second specialist in this area to have the diagnosis confirmed and to review all available treatment options. If the cancer is in an early stage, the most common treatment is to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries in a surgical procedure called a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. (The ovaries are removed because they secrete hormones which encourage cancer growth.)

Depending on the extent of the cancer, one of two kinds of hysterectomy may be performed:

  • Total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries through an incision in the abdomen. Lymph nodes in the pelvis may also be removed.
  • Radical hysterectomy: the parametrial (a portion of the uterus) and paravaginal supporting structures are removed. Radical hysterectomy is not commonly needed for this disease.

When caught early, the cure rate is more than 90 percent, so early diagnosis is very important. If a woman ignores the symptom of abnormal bleeding over a long time, the survival rate decreases. If the abnormal uterine bleeding is caused by uterine cancer, the longer it goes untreated, the deeper the tumor grows into the wall of the uterus or spreads to surrounding areas.

In addition to surgery, other treatments for cancer of the endometrium include:

  • Radiation therapy: the use of high-dose X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes into the area where the cancer cells are found (internal radiation). Radiation may be used alone or before or after surgery.