Usually chemotherapy is used to treat endometrial cancer 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.
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).
Endometrial cancer may be treated with one or more of the following chemotherapy drugs:
- Carboplatin (Paraplatin)
- Cisplatin (Platinol)
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
- Ifosfamide (Ifex)
- Liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil)
- Paclitaxel (Taxol)
Chemotherapy for gynecologic patients is given at the University of Washington Medical Center 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. 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.