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Chemotherapy

When, where and how you have chemotherapy for womb cancer, and the possible side effects.

You might have chemotherapy after surgery if you have a high grade cancer or type 2 cancer, such as clear cell womb cancer.

Chemotherapy is also a treatment for advanced womb cancer. 

Types of chemotherapy

The most common type of drugs for womb cancer are:

  • cisplatin
  • carboplatin
  • doxorubicin 
  • cyclophosphamide
  • paclitaxel 

You may have a single drug or a combination of 2 or 3 drugs.

How you have chemotherapy

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.

Where you have chemotherapy

You usually have treatment into your bloodstream at the cancer day clinic. You’ll sit in a chair for a few hours so it’s a good idea to take newspapers, books or electronic devices to help to pass the time.

You have some types of chemotherapy over several days. You might be able to have some drugs through a small portable pump you take home.

For some types of chemotherapy you have to stay in a hospital ward. This could be overnight or for a couple of days.

Before you start chemotherapy

You need to have blood tests to make sure it’s safe to start treatment. You have these either a few days before or on the day you start treatment. You have blood tests before each round or cycle of treatment.

Side effects

Common chemotherapy side effects include:

  • feeling sick
  • loss of appetite
  • losing weight
  • feeling very tired
  • a lower resistance to infections
  • bleeding and bruising easily
Contact the doctor or nurse immediately if you have any signs of infection such as a temperature higher than 38C or generally feeling unwell. Infections can make you very unwell very quickly.

Side effects depend on:

  • which drugs you have
  • how much of each drug you have
  • how you react

Tell your treatment team about any side effects that you have.

Most side effects only last for the few days that you’re having the drugs. The team caring for you can help reduce your side effects.

When you go home

Chemotherapy for womb cancer can be difficult to cope with. Tell your doctor or nurse about any problems or side effects that you have. The nurse will give you telephone numbers to call if you have any problems at home.

Last reviewed: 
05 May 2014
  • Endometrial cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    N Colombo, E Preti, F Landoni and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2013, Vol 24 (Supplement 6)

  • Adjuvant chemotherapy for advanced endometrial cancer (Review)
    K Galaal, M Al Moundhri, A Bryant and others
    Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014, Issue 5. Art No: CD010681.DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010681.pub2

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