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Expert treatment for uterine and endometrial cancer

After you’re diagnosed with uterine cancer, everything that comes next can seem overwhelming. Questions and worry about the coming days and weeks can take over, making it hard to know where to turn.

We’re here to help. Together, we’ll talk to you about how you’re feeling, answer your questions and get started on creating an advanced, personalized treatment plan backed by the latest research and technology.

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we approach treatment by understanding the impact it has both physically and mentally. We offer you the latest in advanced treatment and integrative therapies.

Our board-certified oncologists work closely with gynecologists, nurses and other specialists who are experts in treating every type of uterine cancer. With technologically advanced cancer centers and clinics throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, advanced cancer treatment is always close to home.

Types of uterine cancer

Uterine cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the uterus. It occurs when cancer cells in the uterus start to grow out of control and crowd out healthy cells.

Uterine cancer can be divided into two main types:

Endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of cancer and accounts for 90% of uterine cancer diagnoses. This type of uterine cancer starts in the inner lining (endometrium) of the uterus. There are many types of endometrial cancer, including:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Serous carcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Transitional carcinoma
  • Uterine carcinosarcoma 
Uterine sarcoma

Uterine sarcoma is a less common type of uterine cancer. It affects about 10% of women diagnosed with uterine cancer. Uterine sarcoma starts in the myometrium layer of the uterus or the supporting tissues of the uterus. There are three main types of uterine sarcoma:

  • Uterine leiomyosarcoma (LMS)
  • Endometrial stromal sarcoma (ESS)
  • Undifferentiated sarcoma
Symptoms of uterine cancer

Symptoms of uterine cancer may differ from person to person. You may notice abnormal bleeding between periods, bleeding after menopause, abnormal vaginal discharge or pelvic pain.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our OB-GYNs. Our doctors are experts in diagnosing hundreds of conditions. Anytime you have new or unusual symptoms that you are concerned about or are worsening, it’s a good idea to make an appointment.

Diagnosing uterine cancer

Your visit to a doctor often starts with a physical exam. After the exam, we usually need more information before we can diagnose cancer. Some common tests used to diagnose uterine cancer include: 

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the inside of your uterus so we can look for growths or abnormalities. 

Biopsy

A biopsy is usually needed to confirm whether a growth or polyp inside the uterus is cancerous. During a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is removed from the uterus and examined in our lab. Most often, we’ll guide a thin tube through your cervix and use suction to remove a small amount of tissue. This quick procedure usually causes mild discomfort similar to menstrual cramps. We’ll use anesthesia as needed to help you feel more comfortable during the procedure. 

Hysteroscopy

This minimally invasive procedure gives us a better look at the lining of your uterus. We’ll guide a thin tube with a tiny light and camera through your cervix and into your uterus. We’ll check your uterus for growths that might be cancerous. Most of the time, patients are awake during the procedure. We numb the pelvic region with local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable.

Dilation and curettage (D&C)

Sometimes, the results of a biopsy are inconclusive. If this happens, we’ll recommend a D&C. During this procedure, we’ll dilate your cervix so we can have better access to the tissue inside the uterus. Then, we’ll remove some of the uterine lining to be examined in the lab. Your doctor will talk to you about options, like anesthesia, to make the procedure more comfortable.

Treating uterine cancer

Through advancements in cancer research, we’ve found that each person’s response to cancer treatment is unique. No two treatment plans are exactly the same. After uterine cancer is diagnosed, our team of oncologists will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. It’s likely that you’ll need a combination of multiple treatments for the best results, and we’ll work together to find the most effective combination for you. Common types of treatment for uterine cancer include: 

Radiation

Radiation therapy is used to treat and manage cancer in affected areas of the body by using beams of intense energy to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells can’t heal damage caused by radiation. It’s almost always paired with chemotherapy for the best results. 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, often called “chemo,” is a treatment used to destroy cancer cells through the entire body. This is treatment option can be used alone but is often paired with radiation.

Hormone therapy

Sometimes, cancers are affected by certain hormones in the body. Hormone therapy uses hormones to treat cancer or to block hormones that help the cancer grow. This treatment is usually used alongside chemotherapy to treat more advanced uterine cancer. 

Targeted therapy

This treatment can isolate and change specific behaviors within cancer cells. This may include stopping their growth, blocking chemical signals within the cells or killing the cancer cells. Because targeted therapy attacks cancer cells, it does less damage to normal, healthy cells than chemotherapy. 

Immunotherapy (biotherapy)

This relatively new treatment uses medicines that kick-start your body’s natural immune response to cancer. Some types of immunotherapy use man-made antibodies that directly attack cancer cells while ignoring healthy cells. 

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomies aren’t always needed to treat or manage uterine cancer but might be recommended if it’s the best option to remove all cancerous cells. During a hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed to help ensure all the affected tissue is gone. We’ll talk with you about whether a hysterectomy is the best treatment option for you and help you prepare for and recover from surgery if it’s needed. 

Our cancer care services

During your cancer treatment, we help make sure that you and your family feel as comfortable and supported as possible. To do this, we offer a wide range of services as part of personalized treatment plans, including:

Integrative therapies

Integrative therapies are supporting treatments some people choose to have in addition to their cancer treatments. They’re used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments and improve your overall emotional and spiritual well-being. Common types of integrative therapies include massage, healing touch, reflexology, music therapy and acupuncture.

Palliative care

Palliative care helps improve the quality of life for people with advanced stages of cancer. Palliative care works alongside medical care to keep you comfortable and provide additional support. Our specialized palliative care team works closely with our oncology department so the support you need during your illness is easily accessible. Our palliative care team will help you understand your treatments, do daily activities, coordinate communication with your doctor and can perform other services to help support you and your family.

Nutrition services

Good nutrition is needed to support the increased demands on your body while you heal. The benefits include preserving muscle mass, a healthy immune system, fewer complications and a better quality of life. We’ll recommend different nutrition guidelines to you depending on your type of cancer, stage of cancer or treatment plan. Our registered nutritionists can provide nutrition counseling to help with managing weight changes, dealing with side effects of treatment and navigating nutrition recommendations.

Genetic counseling

Cancer develops by chance, but people with a family history of cancer might be at a higher risk. It’s possible to have a gene mutation that can be passed from generation to generation. A genetic counselor can meet with you to go over your personal or family history of cancer and help you understand your hereditary risks. If you have questions about genetic counseling, or want to know if genetic counseling is right for you, please ask your care team.

Cancer rehabilitation

Cancer can change the way your body functions. What used to be easy might become more difficult because of fatigue, joint pain, stiffness, weakness, numbing or swelling. Some people might even develop difficulty thinking, balancing, speaking or swallowing. Cancer rehabilitation is a type of treatment that helps you improve your function and ability to do daily activities. We’ll recommend the best treatments for you, which may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and others.

Specialty pharmacy

We provide a specialty pharmacy that’s staffed by pharmacists who are experts in cancer medications. Because our pharmacy is fully integrated with our cancer treatment centers, our pharmacists are able to work closely with your treatment team. This helps to make sure you get the special medications you need to treat and manage cancer. Our team will help you understand the cost of your medication and help you with your insurance.

The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) has recognized us as a specialty pharmacy with a Distinction in Oncology.

Home care and hospice

Home care is when doctor-led care is provided in the comfort of your home. The goal is to manage your condition, keep you comfortable and ensure you can safely live in your home. Our team of doctors, nurses and aides will work with you to develop a care plan that meets your needs. If you think home care is the best option for you or your family member, please talk to a member of your care team. We’ll answer your questions and guide you to helpful resources.

Hospice is a type of individualized care provided to patients. The goal of hospice care is to relieve pain and help a patient’s final days be as comfortable and meaningful as possible. Hospice care doesn’t happen in a specific place. Instead, we can provide hospice care wherever you and your family feel most comfortable, including at home, in an assisted living facility, in a hospital or in a residential hospice facility. We’ll work with you to develop a care plan that helps with your medical needs along with the emotional and spiritual needs of you and your family.

Getting started Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Many different board-certified doctors, nurses, technologists and other medical professionals will work with you to make sure you’re getting the care you need during every step of your journey. Our care team is here to help you schedule your appointments and manage your treatments while supporting you and your loved ones throughout your treatment process.

Depending on your treatment plan, you might work with:

  • Gynecologist oncologist – A doctor who specializes in treating cancer conditions that affect a woman's reproductive organs.
  • Medical oncologist A doctor who specializes in treating cancer with medicines, including chemotherapy.
  • Radiation oncologist – A doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.  

Yes, many of our patients are able to participate in clinical trials if they meet the requirements. Take a look at our current clinical trials and learn more about our ongoing cancer research.

HealthPartners Institute

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are the member services numbers to help you get started: