Chemotherapy for womb cancer

You might have chemotherapy after surgery if you have

  • intermediate or high risk cancer
  • type 2 cancer, such as clear cell womb cancer

When you have surgery your surgeon sends what they remove for various tests in a laboratory. These tests help them work out the risk of your cancer coming back. You may need chemotherapy if your cancer is in a higher risk group. 

You might also have radiotherapy with chemotherapy if you have a higher risk cancer.

Chemotherapy is also a treatment for advanced womb cancer. 

Types of chemotherapy

The most common type of drugs for womb cancer are:

  • paclitaxel
  • carboplatin
  • cisplatin
  • doxorubicin
  • cyclophosphamide

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

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 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.

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 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
  • increased risk of getting an infection
  • 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.

Most side effects only last for a few days or so. Your treatment team can help to manage any side effects that you have.

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.

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

  • 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

Last reviewed: 
04 Mar 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2024

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