Uterine Cancer, Endometrial Cancer and Hormone Therapy

Some uterine tumors contain certain proteins, called hormone receptors, which attract and bind to estrogen and use this hormone to grow. Hormone therapy is a systemic treatment (i.e., affects cells throughout the body) that uses progesterone to balance the effect of estrogen (i.e., prevent it from reaching and binding to receptor cells) and slow tumor growth.

Hormone therapy is used to treat metastatic or recurrent endometrial cancer. It also may be used to treat patients who are unable to undergo surgery or radiation. Prior to treatment, a hormone receptor test may be performed to determine if the endometrial tissue contains these proteins.

Hormone therapy usually involves a synthetic type of progesterone in pill form. Side effects include increased appetite, fluid retention, weight gain, and, in premenopausal women, changes in the menstrual cycle.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015