Progestin Hormone Therapy for Endometrial Cancer

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
medroxyprogesterone Provera
megestrol Megace

How It Works

A woman's body makes the hormone progesterone. Progestin is the man-made form of progesterone. It is usually given in pill form.

Hormone therapy works by blocking the action of hormones, which stops some types of cancer cells from growing. It only works with the type of cancer cells that respond to hormones. So before a woman is given this treatment, her cancer cells are tested to see if the treatment will work.

Why It Is Used

Progestin hormone therapy may be used to slow the growth of endometrial cancer. This may be done when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Or it may be done for a young woman with early-stage cancer so she can become pregnant in the future.

How Well It Works

Progestin hormone therapy has been shown to slow cancer cell growth for up to 30 out of 100 women who had advanced endometrial cancer. This therapy also helped to slow cancer cell growth in women who had endometrial cancer that had come back after treatment.1

Side Effects

Progestin hormone therapy can cause side effects, including:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Mild shortness of breath.
  • Weakness.
  • Headache.
  • Hot flashes or sweating.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Insomnia.

Serious side effects are rare but may include:

  • An allergic reaction.
  • Sudden severe headache.
  • Changes in eyesight.
  • Numbness or swelling in an arm or leg.

Progestin hormone therapy is also used as an appetite stimulant. You may experience an increased appetite, which could result in weight gain.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Progestin hormone therapy may be given to women who are unable to have surgery or radiation therapy.

Women who have endometrial cancer that has spread to other parts of the body may live longer if they receive progestin hormone therapy.1

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. National Cancer Institute (2012). Endometrial Cancer Treatment (PDQ)—Health Professional Version. Available online: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/endometrial/HealthProfessional.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised November 27, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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