Chemotherapy for womb cancer

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs are carried in the blood and can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. If you have early-stage womb cancer, you’re unlikely to need chemotherapy.

When chemotherapy is given

Chemotherapy is sometimes offered after surgery and radiotherapy, to reduce the risk of womb cancer coming back. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy. There may be more risk of the cancer coming back if it:

  • is high-grade (grade 3)
  • is a non-endometrial type
  • is large
  • has spread to the lymph nodes.

Your specialist will talk to you about the possible benefits and side effects of chemotherapy, so that you can decide if it’s right for you. In some situations, chemotherapy may be given instead of radiotherapy after surgery. It may also be given before surgery to shrink the cancer before removing it, or to treat cancer that’s left behind after your operation.

We have more general information about chemotherapy.

Advanced cancer

If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, chemotherapy can be given to help control it and relieve symptoms without causing too many side effects. This is sometimes called palliative treatment. Your cancer specialist or specialist nurse will explain what it involves and the likely side effects.

How chemotherapy is given

You’re likely to have the chemotherapy drugs given by injection into a vein (intravenously) or as a drip (infusion). Occasionally, the drugs are given through a soft plastic line called a central line into a vein in your chest or through a thin tube inserted into your upper arm (a PICC line).

Chemotherapy is usually given as a session of treatment. After each session, you’ll usually have a rest period of a few weeks before the next session. This allows your body to recover from the side effects. The chemotherapy session and the rest period make up a cycle of treatment. Your doctor or nurse will explain how many cycles of treatment are planned for you and how you’ll be given your chemotherapy.

Drugs used in chemotherapy for womb cancer

The drugs commonly used to treat womb cancer are:

  • carboplatin
  • cisplatin
  • doxorubicin
  • paclitaxel (Taxol®).

Other drugs may also be used. You may be given a combination of two or three drugs, or just one. If you’re having adjuvant chemotherapy, you’re more likely to have a combination of drugs. Your doctor or specialist nurse will explain more about the chemotherapy treatment to you.

We have information about individual chemotherapy drugs and combinations.

‘I found I was cold during the chemo sessions so I treated myself to a big wrap to keep warm. The hospital will have blankets, but this was my luxury.’ Jackie


Back to Chemotherapy explained

Your feelings

You may experience difficult feelings while having chemotherapy treatment. Talking these over can be helpful.

Where can you have chemotherapy?

You usually have chemotherapy in a chemotherapy day unit or clinic. If your treatment is more complex, you may need to stay in hospital.