Hysterectomy is a primary treatment for uterine cancer, and the recovery period can last up to 8 weeks.

Uterine, or endometrial, cancer is the most common form of gynecological cancer. It starts in the lining of your uterus, known as the endometrium, and can spread to other parts of your body if not detected and treated early.

In cases where the cancer is in your uterus only, a hysterectomy is usually the first-line treatment. This is a surgical procedure to remove your uterus, or womb. Surgery may also involve the removal of other reproductive organs, such as the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Hysterectomies are a primary treatment option for uterine cancer. During the procedure, a surgeon may remove your uterus and surrounding tissues, including your cervix, to eliminate the cancerous cells and prevent further spread of the disease.

Your surgeon may use different techniques, including abdominal, vaginal, or laparoscopic approaches, depending on your specific circumstances and needs.

Hysterectomy is an effective treatment option for uterine cancer, especially in the early stages. It’s often part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.

Can uterine cancer be cured after a hysterectomy?

In many cases, a hysterectomy will effectively cure uterine cancer. Removing the cancerous uterus eliminates the disease from the body and significantly reduces the risk of cancer recurrence.

Treatment success depends on several factors, including the stage and type of uterine cancer and if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.

Laparoscopic power morcellation is a surgical technique that uses a medical device to divide the uterus or fibroids into smaller fragments for removal through small incisions.

Research suggests that this technique may increase the risk of spreading undetected cancer cells in cases where an unsuspected malignancy is present.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about using laparoscopic power morcellation for hysterectomy or myomectomy, a procedure that removes fibroids only. They cautioned that this technique, which is not the standard practice in uterine cancer surgery, may spread and worsen uterine cancer.

What are the different types of hysterectomies?

There are several types of hysterectomies, including:

  • Total hysterectomy: This is the removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix.
  • Partial hysterectomy (subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy): This procedure removes the upper part of your uterus but not your cervix.
  • Radical hysterectomy: This surgery removes the uterus, cervix, upper part of the vagina, supporting ligaments, and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: This surgery removes the fallopian tubes and ovaries in addition to the uterus.
  • Laparoscopic or robotic-assisted hysterectomy: These minimally invasive procedures use small incisions and specialized tools to remove the uterus.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: This involves the removal of your uterus through an incision made in your vagina without any abdominal incisions.

The type of hysterectomy for uterine cancer typically depends on the extent of the disease. The most common surgery is total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. In more advanced cases or when cancer has spread beyond the uterus, you may need a radical hysterectomy.

Right after a hysterectomy, you can expect to experience some pain, fatigue, and discomfort. Recovery after an abdominal hysterectomy can take up to 8 weeks, while vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy may have shorter recovery times.

Long-term side effects can include hormonal changes, menopausal symptoms, and a potential effect on sexual function. Regular follow-ups with your doctor are important to monitor any potential complications and address any concerns you may have.

It’s also important to get up and move around during the recovery period to reduce the risk of complications like blood clots.

Uterine cancer may still spread after a hysterectomy. This is called metastasis. The most common sites of metastasis include the nearby lymph nodes, the vagina, and the lining of the abdominal cavity, also known as the pelvic peritoneum.

In advanced cases, uterine cancer can also spread to distant organs such as your lungs, liver, and bones.

Signs that uterine cancer has spread may include:

  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • weight loss and loss of appetite
  • frequent or painful urination
  • bone pain
  • enlarged lymph nodes

The treatment options for uterine cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease.

  • Stage I: Surgery is the primary treatment. It may involve a hysterectomy and removal of nearby lymph nodes. Radiation therapy may also be recommended in some cases.
  • Stage II: Surgery is the main treatment, including removing the uterus and nearby tissues. Radiation therapy may also be used.
  • Stage III: Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Lymph node removal and other procedures may be performed.
  • Stage IV: Treatment may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Palliative care is also an important aspect to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Survival rates for uterine cancer

Here are the stage-related survival rates for women with uterine cancer, according to the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics.

  • Stage 1: More than 90% survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 2: Around 75% survive for five years or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 3: Almost 50% survive for five years or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 4: About 15% will survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.

Prognosis for recurrent uterine cancer

Sometimes, uterine cancer comes back after treatment. Some older research suggests that women with recurrent uterine cancer have a 50% chance of surviving more than 12 months after a diagnosis.

Some recurrent uterine cancers may be treatable with additional surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. These can help manage the disease and prolong a person’s survival.

Hysterectomy is a typical treatment for uterine cancer, the most common type of gynecological cancer. By removing the uterus — and in some cases, the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes — the procedure aims to eliminate cancer cells and prevent the disease from spreading.

Facing uterine cancer and undergoing a hysterectomy can be challenging, but you are not alone. With the support of medical professionals and loved ones, many women successfully overcome uterine cancer and look forward to a healthier future.