What types of surgeries treat endometrial (uterine) cancer?

Barbara A. Goff, MD
Gynecologic Oncology

The appropriate surgery to treat endometrial cancer is for the uterus, cervix, tubes and ovaries to be removed and the lymph nodes in the pelvis and abdomen removed if indicated. For the vast majority of patients this surgery can and should be performed through a minimally invasive approach with robotic or laparoscopic surgery. With a minimally invasive approach 4-5 small incisions are made in the abdomen and the cancer is removed through the vagina. The advantages of a minimally invasive approach are that there is much less pain, fewer complications, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and much faster recovery. The cancer outcomes and cure rates are equivalent. If the uterus is very large or there is extensive spread of the cancer then a large incision is made on the abdomen and the surgery is done through an abdominal approach.

 The most important thing if having a cancer surgery is that you see a specialist with expertise in the type of cancer you have and the surgery that needs to be performed. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion about surgery and cancer therapy.

The following are different types of surgery for endometrial cancer:
  • Open surgery: An incision several inches in length is made in the abdomen to provide access to the reproductive organs. A simple hysterectomy removes your uterus and cervix. An abdominal hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. A radical hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and tissue around the uterus.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: The uterus is removed through a small incision at the top of your vagina.
  • Laparoscopy: This minimally invasive procedure can be performed to remove some cancers or sample lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. Pain and recovery time are greatly reduced with a minimally invasive procedure. It involves only a few very small incisions to allow a viewing scope, camera, and special surgical instruments to be inserted to perform the surgery. Your uterus may be removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina.
  • Robotic surgery: This minimally invasive procedure is similar to a laparoscopy but uses the precision of robotics coupled with magnified views and the surgeon's skills to perform a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.