Surgery is the most common treatment for endometrial cancer.
In some cases, surgery is limited to removing the uterus and reproductive organs but sparing the ovaries. In many cases, surgery removes all the reproductive organs.
Your doctor will recommend what kind of surgery is an option for you based on your diagnosis, the stage of cancer, and your preferences.
The goals of surgery are to remove the cancer, reduce the risk that it returns, preserve healthy body tissue, and support your quality of life.
Types of surgery for endometrial cancer
There are 2 main types of surgery for endometrial cancer:
- Hysterectomy: removing the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and, in many cases, the ovaries.
- Surgery that preserves the ovaries: In some cases of early endometrial cancer in younger women, doctors can preserve the function of the ovaries. That may allow women to collect their eggs for future use, potentially leading to pregnancies with surrogates.
Approaches to surgery for endometrial cancer
Small-incision surgery has become more common in recent years than traditional open surgery for endometrial cancer.
Small-incision surgery has 2 forms:
- Laparoscopic, done with a small incision in the belly, then inserting a tiny camera and surgical tools
- Robotic, which also uses small incisions, with a camera and tools connected to a robot controlled by the surgeon
Small-incision surgery allows people to recover more quickly, have a shorter hospital stay, return to daily activities sooner, and feel better faster.
Open surgery is also a good option for women who aren’t candidates for small-incision surgery.
Possible side effects of surgery for endometrial cancer
After a full (radical) hysterectomy, you will no longer have menstrual periods and will not be able to become pregnant.
Your doctors take great care to minimize the risks of surgery. The risks include:
- Injuring surrounding body organs or nerves. There is a risk of injuring nerves connected to the bladder. Newer surgery techniques have reduced that risk and preserved nerve function.
- When lymph nodes are removed, there is a risk of a condition called lymphedema. Lymph fluid may build up, which can cause swelling to the legs.
- Blood clots
Published April 2018
Stanford Health Care © 2018