Chemotherapy for cancer of the uterus
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. The aim is to destroy cancer cells while causing the least possible damage to healthy cells.
Learn more about:
Chemotherapy for uterine cancer
Chemotherapy may be used:
- for certain types of uterine cancer
- when cancer comes back after surgery or radiation therapy to try to control the cancer and to relieve symptoms
- if the cancer does not respond to hormone therapy
- if the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis when first diagnosed
- during radiation therapy (chemoradiation) and/or after radiation.
Chemotherapy is usually given by injecting the drugs into a vein (intravenously). You will usually have several treatment sessions, with rest periods in between. Together, the session and rest period are called a cycle. You will have a number of treatments, sometimes up to six, every 3–4 weeks over several months. Talk to your doctor about how long your treatment will last.
Treatment is usually given to you during day visits to a hospital or clinic as an outpatient or, very rarely, you may need to stay in hospital overnight. Let your oncologist know if you are taking nutritional or herbal supplements as these can interact with chemotherapy and may affect how the drugs work.
The side effects of chemotherapy vary greatly and depend on the drugs you receive, how often you have the treatment, and your general fitness and health. Side effects may include:
- feeling sick (nausea)
- some thinning and loss of body and head hair
- numbness and tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy).
Most side effects are temporary and steps can often be taken to prevent or reduce their severity.
For more on this, see Chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy can affect your immune system, increasing the risk of infection. If you develop a temperature over 38°C, contact your doctor or go immediately to the emergency department at your nearest hospital.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
Learn more about chemotherapy in this short video.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
A/Prof Jim Nicklin, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor Gynaecologic Oncology, The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Prof Michael Friedlander, Medical Oncologist, The Prince of Wales Hospital and Conjoint Professor of Medicine, The University of NSW, NSW; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Gynaecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Adele Hudson, Statewide Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gynaecological Oncology Service, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Dr Anthony Richards, Gynaecological Oncologist, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, VIC; Georgina Richter, Gynaecological Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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