Chemotherapy for advanced womb cancer

You doctor might recommend you have chemotherapy to try to slow the growth of the cancer and to relieve symptoms.

Types of chemotherapy

You usually have 2 or 3 chemotherapy drugs. The most common regime is carboplatin and paclitaxel. Or your doctor may suggest paclitaxel on its own. 

Your doctor may suggest another type. Check the name of the chemotherapy treatment with your doctor or nurse, then find out about it on our A to Z list of cancer drugs.

How you have chemotherapy

You have the chemotherapy drugs into your bloodstream.

Into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm or hand. 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.

Diagram showing a central line

Where you have chemotherapy

You usually have treatment into your bloodstream at the cancer day clinic. You might sit in a chair for a few hours so it’s a good idea to take things in to do. For example, newspapers, books or electronic devices can all help to pass the time. You can usually bring a friend or family member with you.

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

Some hospitals may give certain chemotherapy treatments to you at home. Your doctor or nurse can tell you more about this.

Before you start chemotherapy

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

Your doctors and pharmacists work out your chemotherapy dose based on your blood cell levels, and your weight, height and general health.

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
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • hair loss
Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have signs of infection. These include a temperature above 37.5C or below 36C, 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.

Chemotherapy for advanced 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: 
07 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2024
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    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2018

  • British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS) uterine cancer guidelines: Recommendations for practice
    Jo Morrison and others 
    European Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 2022. Volume 270, Pages 50-89

  • Endometrial cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guideline for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    A. Oaknin and others
    Annals of Oncology 2022 (available online)

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