When endometrial cancer is discovered in its earliest, most treatable stages, more than 90 percent of patients survive at least five years — and most are completely cured. Patients themselves detect the great majority of endometrial cancers in these early stages by reporting abnormal vaginal bleeding to their doctor. Very few women with cancer confined to the uterus experience a recurrence.
Your doctor may periodically perform a CA-125 blood test to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment. (CA-125 is a protein released by some endometrial and ovarian cancer cells.) You will also need to see your doctor for regular follow-up pelvic exams, Pap smears, and possibly imaging tests. If you experience any new symptoms, please contact your doctor right away. The sooner your symptoms are evaluated and treated, the better your outcome will be.
Management of Complications
Memorial Sloan Kettering doctors are focusing on several crucial quality-of-life issues in endometrial cancer survivors, including premature menopause after treatment and sexual health after treatment.
Some treatments for gynecologic cancers may cause the early onset of menopausal symptoms, including the following: irregular periods, hot flashes, drying or thinning of vaginal tissues or the bladder, loss of interest in sex, insomnia and fatigue, and memory problems.
At Memorial Sloan Kettering's Barbara White Fishman Women's Health Center, women treated for gynecologic cancers can receive counseling and treatment to help them manage the symptoms of menopause and the increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease that can occur after menopause. Physicians at the Women's Health Center care for both young women who are experiencing the early onset of menopause as a result of cancer therapy and older women who have reached menopause naturally, but whose choices for managing menopausal symptoms are limited because of their cancer histories. The Barbara White Fishman Women's Health Center is located in Memorial Sloan Kettering's Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion.
Memorial Sloan Kettering clinical researchers are currently enrolling participants in a study to assess the distress, sexual health, and quality of life experienced by women suffering from infertility related to therapy for gynecologic cancers. Doctors will use what they learn to design better ways to help women who must deal with the problem of infertility after cancer treatment.
Some women find that cancer therapy has affected their feelings about and desire for sex. This is an important issue for many women with gynecologic cancers because treatment can sometimes result in side effects that cause vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse, and/or reduced interest in sex. Don't be afraid to let us know if you are experiencing these problems and would like some help; we are here for you. Counselors at Memorial Sloan Kettering's Sexual Health Program at the Barbara White Fishman Women's Health Center can help you address your concerns. They can also refer you to other doctors who treat any underlying problems that may be contributing to your concerns.
Other Aspects of Survivorship
To help patients manage other issues that may come up in survivorship, Memorial Sloan Kettering offers a wide range of programs for patients, including the following:
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Counseling Center
Our Counseling Center offers individual and family counseling sessions to help patients and their families address the problems that they may encounter in adjusting to life during and after treatment.
- Living Beyond Cancer
People facing the challenges of cancer survivorship can access a variety of support services through the Living Beyond Cancer section of our Web site. This section includes information about professionally led support groups and counseling, survivorship clinics to manage late effects of cancer and its treatment, recommendations about screening and healthy living, and specialized services to address sexual and reproductive health. We also offer a range of resources to help survivors, families, and friends better understand the complex emotional and social issues that may arise following treatment.
Additional services are offered through our Resources for Life After Cancer program, which provides a full range of educational support services, including individual and family counseling, periodic lectures and workshops, and practical guidance on employment and insurance issues.
- Role of Rehabilitation Services
Following treatment for gynecologic cancer, a patient may notice changes in her range of motion, strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Rehabilitation therapy plays an important role in helping patients improve their function and mobility following surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. At Memorial Sloan Kettering, physical therapists evaluate patients shortly after treatment and provide them with individualized exercise programs.
During surgery to remove the uterus for endometrial cancer, surgeons may remove regional lymph nodes in the groin. Physical therapists at Memorial Sloan Kettering are specialized in caring for patients after lymph node dissection and in educating patients on precautions to prevent injury and lymphedema (a condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling in the groin). For patients who do develop lymphedema, our therapists are particularly knowledgeable about this condition and will help patients manage their symptoms and reduce or stabilize the swelling, care for the skin in the affected area, regain mobility after surgery, and identify and avoid activities that tend to exacerbate the condition.
Our occupational therapists educate patients about the changes that can result from treatment and about adaptive equipment and compensatory techniques that can increase their independence during their daily routines. They also evaluate and treat patients' ability to perform basic daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and moving around. Therapists provide patients with exercises to help increase strength, range of motion, and fine motor control.
See the Rehabilitation section of our Web site for further information about our services, including appointment information.
- Integrative Medicine Service
Our Integrative Medicine Service is designed to enhance cancer patients' quality of life through healing regimens that address the body, mind, and spirit. Beneficial complementary therapies include various types of massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization and other mind-body therapies, music therapy, and nutritional counseling, as well as classes such as yoga, t'ai chi, and chair aerobics.
- Help for Older Patients
A diagnosis of cancer is difficult at any age, but older patients face unique challenges. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is committed to providing cancer patients aged 65 and older with the treatment, facilities, and support they need.
Memorial Sloan Kettering offers the services of a multidisciplinary geriatric team, which includes physicians, clinical nurse specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and psychiatrists, as well as members of the Palliative Medicine Service and the Integrative Medicine Service. The programs and care the team provides focus on the needs of elderly cancer patients.
For more information about our services for older patients as well as for their family and friends, visit the Help for Older Patients section of our website.
- Screening & Wellness
Memorial Sloan Kettering provides numerous prevention, screening, and wellness services. Information about these services plus guidance on how to stop smoking and how to follow a healthy diet can be found on our Web site in the Prevention & Screening section.
Access Information Through our Patient Portal
Memorial Sloan Kettering offers a secure website — called MYMSKCC — for patients to access personalized information about their care. If you enroll to use MYMSKCC, you can view, confirm, and keep track of appointments; access over 300 lab results; make changes to contact and insurance information; communicate with your healthcare team and other staff using secure electronic messages; and pay bills and view balances. Learn more about MYMSKCC.
To enroll in MYMSKCC, please ask a session assistant in clinic or contact your physician's office.