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Trabectedin (Yondelis)

Find out what trabectedin is, how you have it and other important information about having trabectedin. 

Trabectedin is a chemotherapy drug and is also known by its brand name, Yondelis.

It is a treatment for: 

  • advanced soft tissue sarcoma – for people who have had treatment with ifosfamide and an anthracycline chemotherapy such as doxorubicin
  • ovarian cancer that has come back – in combination with another chemotherapy drug called liposomal doxorubicin

How it works

Trabectedin works by sticking to the DNA in cells and damaging it. This stops the cancer cells growing and multiplying.

How you have it

You have trabectedin into your bloodstream (intravenously).

Drugs into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have it

You usually have trabectedin as a course of several cycles of treatment. The number of cycles of treatment you have depends on your treatment plan. The treatment plan for trabectedin depends on which type of cancer you have.

Trabectedin for soft tissue sarcoma

You have trabectedin through a drip for 24 hours. Once the drip has finished you have no treatment for 3 weeks. Then you have your next treatment.

You usually continue having trabectedin for as long as it works.

Trabectedin for ovarian cancer

You have the drip for 3 hours the first time. If this goes well you can have the next treatment over an hour. You have treatment every 3 weeks.

You usually continue having the trabectedin for as long as it works.

If you are having trabectedin with liposomal doxorubicin you will have dexamethasone (a steroid). This helps reduce sickness and also protects the liver from damage.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Women must not become pregnant for at least 3 months after the end of treatment. Men should not father a child for at least 5 months after treatment. 


You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.


It is important not to drink alcohol while having trabectedin treatment as this may cause damage to the liver. 


Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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