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Chemotherapy for Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to the cancer cells. It targets cancer cells but can affect healthy cells as well. For uterine cancer, chemotherapy is generally used after surgery. It may also be used if cancer has spread to other areas. It may also be used in combination with radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy Drugs and Delivery

There are a variety of chemotherapy (chemo) drugs. The choice and combination of drugs will be based on the particular cancer. Chemo drugs for uterine cancer may include:

  • Paclitaxel
  • Doxorubicin
  • Doxetaxel
  • Cisplatin
  • Carboplatin

Chemo is most often given through an IV. Some may also be given as pills. It is delivered in cycles over a set period of time. A medical oncologist will determine how many cycles are needed.

Side Effects and Management

The death of cancer cells and healthy cells can cause a range of side effects. A medical oncologist will work to find the treatment that is most harmful to cancer and least harmful to the rest of your body. Side effects or complications from chemotherapy may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory and/or cognitive problems
  • Low blood cell counts (red cells, white cells, or platelets) that can lead to infection or bleeding

Treatments can help to manage side effects. Medicine, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments may all be of some help. The earlier the side effects are treated the better it will be to control them.

REFERENCES:

Chemotherapy for endometrial cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/treating/chemotherapy.html. Updated November 20, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.

Endometrial cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113952/Endometrial-cancer. Updated May 24, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.

Endometrial cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/gynecologic-tumors/endometrial-cancer. Updated March 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.

Toxicities of chemotherapeutic agents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115935/Toxicities-of-chemotherapeutic-agents. Updated October 23, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/uterine/patient/endometrial-treatment-pdq#section/_131. Updated October 13, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017.

Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 12/13/2017