Endometrial & Other Uterine Cancers: Radiation Therapy & Chemotherapy

Pictured: Martee Hensley Endometrial and other uterine cancers form in the tissue lining of a woman’s uterus. Medical oncologist Martee Hensley belongs to a multidisciplinary team with expertise in these cancers.

For many women, surgery is the only treatment necessary for uterine cancer. However, depending on the extent of the cancer or the presence of various risk factors, our doctors may recommend additional or alternative treatment approaches. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated tests for assessing the prognosis of uterine cancer based on biopsy findings, for example, the amount of radiation therapy or the use of hormone therapy can be customized to you.  

Radiation Therapy

If uterine cancer has spread to the opening of the uterus or beyond, your cancer care team may recommend radiation therapy — using x-rays or other high-energy waves — in addition to surgery to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Or we may advise that radiation be applied externally or internally — or both — through one of the following approaches. Radiation therapy may be given alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    In this approach, radiation is delivered externally over a period of several weeks. This type of external-beam radiation allows for precise treatment planning and the delivery of higher radiation doses with greater safety. Radiation therapists can safely shape pencil-thin radiation beams of varying intensity to conform to specific tumor outlines and sizes, reducing the dosage of radiation to healthy tissues and possibly the side effects of treatment.
  • Brachytherapy
    In high-dose brachytherapy, radioactive material in tiny tubes is implanted through the vagina directly to any vaginal tissue remaining after surgery. Brachytherapy may be used in combination with IMRT.

Chemotherapy & Hormone Therapy

Based upon the tumor type and other factors, your cancer care team may recommend chemotherapy to eliminate any cancer cells that may remain undetected following surgery, or to treat disease that has already spread. The chemotherapy drugs most frequently used to treat uterine cancer include carboplatin, and paclitaxel, cisplatin, and doxorubicin, often in combination.

Hormone-therapy drugs are substances that prevent cancer cells from getting or using the hormones they may need to grow. Your treatment team may recommend this approach to halt the spread of certain types of advanced or recurrent uterine cancer. Decisions about which patients may benefit from hormone-blocking drugs are best made by our uterine specialists, who understand the nuances and variable behavior of these cancers.