Uterine Cancer: Recurrence

For women with endometrial cancer the cancer may return after primary treatment. This is known as a recurrence. Although the cancer can recur anywhere, common areas of recurrence include the abdominal cavity, lymph nodes, lung and vagina. The symptoms of recurrence are variable but include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea or vomiting, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, vaginal bleeding, or shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms it is important that you communicate this to your gynecologic oncology team.

There are a number of different treatment options for recurrent endometrial cancer. Overall, chemotherapy is the most common treatment for recurrent endometrial cancer. A wide variety of effective chemotherapy drugs are available. These drugs may be administered alone or in combination and for varying amounts of time.

For many women with recurrent endometrial cancer hormonal therapy is a treatment options. Endometrial cancer, particularly well differentiated endometrial cancers, often respond to hormonal therapies. Hormonal therapies that may be considered include progestational agents and selective estrogen receptor modulators. Many of these agents are administered orally (by mouth) and are often associated with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

For selected cases of recurrent endometrial cancer radiation therapy is an option. Although there are a number of different circumstances, radiation therapy is most commonly utilized in women whose cancer recurs in the pelvis, particularly if the cancer returns at the top of the vagina. Radiation therapy typically includes internal treatments (brachytherapy) as well as external pelvic radiation.