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.
Chemotherapy for uterine cancer 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 may be treated as an outpatient or, very rarely, you may need to stay in hospital overnight. 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.
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The side effects of chemotherapy vary greatly for each woman 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.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
A/Prof Alison Brand, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Prof Jonathan Carter, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Robyn Cheuk, Senior Radiation Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, The Canberra Hospital, ACT; Kim Hobbs, Clinical Specialist Social Worker, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Nicole Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jennifer Loveridge, Consumer; Pauline Tanner, Gynaecology Cancer Nurse Coordinator, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA.
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