Uterine Sarcoma

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Chemotherapy

Some women have chemotherapy after their surgery for uterine sarcoma. Chemotherapy may also be one of your options if you don’t have surgery.

Usually chemotherapy is used to treat uterine sarcoma only if the cancer has already metastasized, or spread, outside of the uterus by the time of surgery or if the cancer has come back after earlier treatment. But your doctor may recommend chemotherapy for other reasons, including for early-stage uterine cancer if you have a type that tends to be aggressive (to grow and spread quickly).

You may receive one chemotherapy drug or a combination of two or more. Your chemotherapy drugs will be given by infusion into a vein. Then they enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body, killing cancer cells that may have spread from the original site.

The reason chemotherapy works is that it kills fast-growing cells, which include cancer cells but also other cells, such as hair follicles, white blood cells, and platelets. This is one reason for many of the typical side effects of chemotherapy treatment, including hair loss and low levels of blood cells (low blood counts).

Common Drugs

Uterine sarcoma may be treated with one or more of the following chemotherapy drugs (and possibly others):

  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin)

  • Cisplatin (Platinol)

  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)

  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar)

  • Ifosfamide (Ifex)

  • Liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil)

  • Paclitaxel (Taxol)

Your Schedule

Chemotherapy is given on various schedules, depending in part on which drugs you receive. Most women receive chemotherapy every three weeks. Some chemotherapy regimens require weekly treatments. Treatment typically continues for three to six months.

Chemotherapy treatments are given in the Infusion Suite on the fifth floor of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) clinic. You may bring a friend or family member to sit with you during your treatment, which may last two to three hours.

Side Effects of Chemotherapy

The side effects of chemotherapy vary according to the drugs that are used. The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue. Other possible side effects include mouth sores and an increased chance of bleeding, infection, or anemia. Patients tolerate chemotherapy much better than in the past because of new drugs that help control side effects. Your team at SCCA will talk with you about the specific side effects you might experience, and we will help you prevent, reduce, or manage these effects as best as possible. You can find general information in the symptom management section.

References

American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
National Comprehensive Cancer Network