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Chemotherapy drugs for soft tissue sarcoma

Men and woman discussing soft tissue sarcomas

This page is about the chemotherapy drugs used to treat soft tissue sarcoma. There is information about


A quick guide to what's on this page

Chemotherapy drugs for soft tissue sarcomas

The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for soft tissue sarcomas are doxorubicin and ifosfamide. All chemotherapy drugs have side effects. The side effects you get will depend on which drugs you have, how much of the drugs you have, and your own individual reaction. We have information about the different chemotherapy drugs and their possible side effects.

Common side effects of chemotherapy include

  • A drop in your blood cell counts, causing an increased risk of infection, anaemia and sometimes bleeding problems such as nosebleeds, heavy periods, or a rash of dark red spots called petechia
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • A sore mouth
  • Hair thinning or hair loss


CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating soft tissue sarcoma section.



Which drugs are used?

The most common drug used for soft tissue sarcoma is called doxorubicin. You may have doxorubicin with another chemotherapy drug called ifosfamide. You usually have ifosfamide with a drug called Mesna. This is not a chemotherapy drug. It stops the ifosfamide from irritating your bladder and causing bleeding. Doctors call this side effect haemorrhagic cystitis.

Other drugs may also be used to treat soft tissue sarcomas. Your doctor will consider several factors when deciding which drug to give you, including what type of sarcoma you have. Some of the drugs are not used for all types of soft tissue sarcoma.

Other chemotherapy drugs sometimes used include

You may have a combination of drugs or a single drug. Your doctor or nurse will give you written information about the drugs you will have. You can also click on the links above to go to specific information about each drug and its side effects.


Risk of side effects

All chemotherapy drugs have side effects but they vary from person to person. Some people have very few side effects. Others have far more. Unfortunately, we can’t tell beforehand who will have trouble with side effects and who won’t. The side effects you get will depend on

  • Which drugs you have
  • The dose you have
  • Your own individual reactions to the treatment

It is important to remember that these side effects are temporary, and that there are effective ways of controlling or reducing them. We have a section about ways of managing cancer drug side effects.


Common side effects

Common side effects include

The links above take you to information about these side effects and how to cope with them. Your doctor and nurse can help with any side effects you have. Anti sickness treatments generally work very well and there are lots of different ones. If you are taking anti sickness medicines and you still feel sick, tell your chemotherapy nurse or doctor. They will be able to give you something else that may work better for you. You can keep trying different anti sickness drugs until you find one that works for you.

There is information about coping with chemotherapy side effects in the main chemotherapy section.

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Updated: 25 February 2015