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What to Know About Surgery for Uterine Cancer

Surgery is the most common treatment for women with uterine cancer. This is true for both endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. The surgery is to take out your uterus and to see how far the cancer has spread . You’ll meet with a surgeon to talk about what will happen. You can ask questions about any concerns you have.

Surgery to take out the uterus is called a hysterectomy. If you have this surgery, you will no longer have periods, which means you won’t be able to get pregnant in the future. There are two main types of hysterectomy: simple and radical.

Simple Hysterectomy

For this surgery, the doctor takes out these organs:

  • Your whole uterus

  • Your cervix, which is at the top of the vagina connected to the uterus

  • Your ovaries and fallopian tubes in some cases. If so, the process is called bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

A simple hysterectomy may be done directly through an incision (cut) in your abdomen, or using a laparoscopy (a long, thin, lighted tube with a camera) inserted through a very small incision in the abdomen. Sometimes, a hysterectomy may be done through the vagina, but only in certain situations. 

Radical Hysterectomy

For this surgery, the doctor takes out these organs:

  • Your whole uterus

  • Your cervix, which is at the top of the vagina connected to the uterus

  • Tissues next to the uterus, which hold it in place, called ligaments

  • The upper part of your vagina

  • Your ovaries and fallopian tubes, in some cases. If so, the process is called bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

  • Lymph nodes adjacent to the uterus 

Like a simple hysterectomy, a radical hysterectomy may be done through an open incision in your abdomen, with a laparoscope, or through the vagina. 

What Happens After Surgery

After the surgery, you will stay in the hospital or surgical center for a few days. How long you stay depends on the kind of surgery you had.

Your doctor may suggest other treatments. These might be either before or after surgery. Here are the other treatments for uterine cancer:

  • Radiation therapy

  • Hormone therapy

  • Chemotherapy