Hormonal therapy for womb cancer
Your cancer doctor may suggest hormonal therapy if you:
- have advanced womb cancer
- have womb cancer that has come back after treatment (recurrent cancer)
- cannot have surgery or radiotherapy because of other health issues.
The aim of treatment is to try to shrink the cancer and control symptoms.
If you have stage 1, grade 1 womb cancer and plan to have children in future you may be offered hormone therapy instead of or to delay having a hysterectomy. This is called fertility sparing treatment (see below).
The main hormonal treatment for advanced or recurrent womb cancer is progesterone. You are most likely to have it as a tablet. Or your GP or practice nurse may give it to you as an injection. The most common types of progesterone are:
An operation to remove the womb and ovaries is the standard treatment for most with womb cancers. But you may have fertility-sparing treatment instead if you had planned to have children in future. This is only suitable for stage 1, grade 1 womb cancer.
The treatment usually involves taking daily progesterone tablets. Less commonly, progesterone can be given directly into the womb through a hormone-releasing intrauterine device (sometimes called an IUD or coil).
This treatment is only done in a few specialist centres. So you may have to travel further to have it. You will have regular checks during and after treatment. This is because with this type of treatment, there is a higher risk that the cancer may not respond to treatment or may come back. You will need a hysterectomy:
- if the cancer does not respond to hormone treatment
- after you have had children.
Your specialist doctor can explain the possible risks and benefits of fertility-sparing treatment.
The most common side effects of progesterone are:
The side effects can be mild and you are not likely to get all of them. They usually get better after 3 to 4 weeks. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are having troublesome side effects.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our womb cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Colombo N et al ESMO-ESGO-ESTRO Consensus Conference on Endometrial Cancer: diagnosis, treatment and follow-up Annals of Oncology 27: 16–41, 2016.
Sundar S et al BGCS uterine cancer guidelines: Recommendations for practice European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 213 (2017) 71–97.
RCOG Fertility Sparing Treatments in Gynaecological Cancers 2013.
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