Cervical Cancer Home > Cervical Cancer Chemotherapy

In many cases, chemotherapy is combined with radiation to treat cervical cancer. However, in some cases, chemotherapy is used by itself (such as when the cancer has spread to distant organs). Besides affecting cancer cells, chemotherapy can also affect other cells that divide rapidly, including blood cells and cells in hair roots. This can lead to side effects, such as infections, hair loss, and vomiting.

An Overview of Chemotherapy and Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a type of systemic therapy, in which anticancer drugs enter the bloodstream and affect cells all over the body. For treatment of cervical cancer, chemotherapy is generally combined with radiation therapy. For cancer that has spread to distant organs, cervical cancer chemotherapy may be used without the aid of other treatment.
Patients usually receive chemotherapy for cervical cancer in an outpatient part of the hospital, at the doctor's office, or at home. In rare cases, women need to stay in the hospital during this cervical cancer treatment.

Common Side Effects of Cervical Cancer Chemotherapy

The side effects of cervical cancer chemotherapy will depend mainly on the specific drugs that are used and the dose that is used for treatment. Chemotherapy can affect cancer cells, but it can also affect other cells that divide rapidly, which include blood cells, cells in hair roots, and cells that line the digestive tract.
Blood Cells
Blood cells fight infection, help your blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When drugs affect your blood cells, you are more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired.
Cells in Hair Roots
Chemotherapy can cause you to lose your hair. Although your hair will grow back, it may be somewhat different in color and texture.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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