Your medical oncologist may recommend chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) to treat sarcoma. Chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. It may also be used to reduce the size of tumors or to relieve pain and other symptoms.
Some Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) patients with sarcoma receive chemotherapy by infusion as inpatients at University of Washington Medical Center. Others receive chemotherapy infusions as outpatients in the Infusion Suite on the fifth floor of the main SCCA building. There are also chemotherapy regimens for sarcoma given in tablet form.
What Chemotherapy Does
Chemotherapy is systemic; it enters your bloodstream and goes throughout your body. The drugs affect cancer cells, but they can also affect certain normal cells, which may lead to side effects.
Chemotherapy can be used to:
- Keep cancer from spreading.
- Slow cancer’s growth.
- Kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of your body.
- Relieve symptoms caused by cancer.
Side effects of chemotherapy vary greatly from person to person and depend on the type and dose of the drugs given, the way they are given, and the length of time they are given. Your treatment team can tell you about the side effects that are most common with your drugs.
Let your team know about any side effects you experience. They may be able to give you medicines to prevent or relieve side effects, suggest other ways to manage side effects, or change your chemotherapy dosage or treatment schedule to prevent side effects from getting worse. For general advice, see the symptom management section.
The time it takes to get over some side effects and regain energy depends on many factors, including your overall health and the drugs you were given. Many side effects are short term and go away after treatment is finished because your healthy cells recover over time.