Surgical Management of Womb Cancer

Understanding womb cancer

About womb cancer

In the UK, about 9,400 women are diagnosed with womb cancer each year. Womb cancer is rare in women aged under 40 and becomes more common after the age of 55. Womb cancer can affect anyone who has a womb.

Most womb cancers start in glandular cells found in the lining of the womb (the endometrium). These are called endometrial cancers. They are usually diagnosed early and treated successfully.

Less commonly, there are other types of womb cancer which start in the supporting tissues of the womb, or in the muscle layer of the womb (the myometrium). These are called soft tissue sarcomas. The most common type of sarcoma of the womb is leiomyosarcoma.

Treatment for Womb Cancer

The main treatment for womb cancer is surgery to remove the womb (uterus), cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This is sometimes the only treatment needed to cure the cancer.

During your surgery, the surgeon will check nearby organs and lymph nodes to find out more about the stage of the cancer

Why do I need surgery?

The main reason for surgery is to remove the cancer. For a small number of women who have cancer that has spread outside of the womb, the surgery will allow your doctors to know where it has spread to (this is called staging), and whether any further treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, is needed.

Other treatments

After surgery, your doctor may advise you to have other treatments to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. This is called adjuvant treatment. The stage and grade of the cancer helps your specialist decide if you need further treatment. People with stage 2 or stage 3 cancer, or a high-grade tumour (grade 3), are usually advised to have further treatment.  The most common adjuvant treatment is a type of internal radiotherapy called vaginal brachytherapy, and external beam radiotherapy to the pelvic area. You may be offered chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy. Or you may have chemotherapy on its own instead of radiotherapy.

What if you decide not to have surgery?

Your decision to not have surgery for your cancer will be respected at all times by your doctor. A meeting to discuss any other options can be arranged.  You may be offered radiotherapy or hormonal therapy instead of surgery.