Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. But each person’s experience is different. You may also experience bladder irritation, which causes a feeling of burning when urinating and increased urinary frequency. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects, such as mouth sores, nausea, and hair loss. If this lasts through treatment, you may lose weight and not get the nutrition you need. Cells called platelets help blood clot. Chemo drugs kill not only cancer cells but normal, healthy cells as well. To help your system, your doctor will likely recommend you drink plenty of fluids to flush the medication out and keep your system functioning properly. Certain types of chemotherapy often have specific side effects. For men, fertility is the ability to make a woman pregnant. Many doctors do not advise getting pregnant during treatment. But some continue, come back, or develop later. Learn more about managing diarrhea. Talk with your doctor about these possible side effects before treatment starts. And your reflexes and small motor skills may slow down. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women treated for breast cancer are at increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fracture. After all, chemotherapy is one of the most common and most powerful forms of cancer treatment. These problems are less likely to occur if your heart is strong and healthy when you start chemotherapy. Cardiac Concerns . Age and genetic factors may also play a role. Side effects often get better or go away after you have finished chemotherapy. You may also lose muscle mass and strength. When your white blood cells are low, getting an infection can be serious. While emotional side effects are common, there are also ways to reduce them. How the side effects of chemo manifest for each person may depend on other factors, such as age or existing health conditions. Chemotherapy can cause side effectsbecause in addition to killing fast-growing cancer cells, the drugs can also harm rapidly dividing cells that make up the hair follicles, skin, and lining of the digestive tract. Learn more about managing mucositis and oral health during cancer treatment. It’s important to take good care of your nails to avoid infection. Mouth sores usually happen 5 to 14 days after a treatment. Dry mouth and mouth sores that form on the tongue, lips, gums, or in the throat can make it difficult to chew and swallow. It may come out a little at a time or in large clumps. Tell your doctor about all the side effects you notice. All these things make it harder to recover from chemotherapy. This raises your risk of getting infections. Learn more: Alternative treatments for osteoporosis ». Different drugs cause different side effects. Chemo can also lower your white blood cell count (neutropenia). Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy affect digestion. Blood disorders. Side effects happen when chemotherapy damages these healthy cells. Here are our picks of the best shoes for toddlers, what to look for, and helpful fit…. These include cells in your blood, mouth, digestive system, and hair follicles. The thought of having chemotherapy frightens many people. Keep reading: What to expect from chemo », Magnesium for anxiety is one benefit of this important mineral. These conditions can affect your heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. This way, doctors can tell if treatment causes problems later. This means not having a bowel movement often enough or having difficult bowel movements. These printable PDFs provide an introduction to chemotherapy, answers to common questions, terms to know, and questions to ask the doctor. It targets cells that grow and divide quickly, as cancer cells do. As chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it can damage some of your healthy cells as well. You may also experience problems with balance and coordination. Constipation. It can also give you a better sense of control over your cancer treatment. It also helps prevent other health problems. Yes. Symptoms include long periods of nosebleeds, blood in vomit or stools, and heavier-than-normal menstruation. These are called late effects. Women might need a Pap test before starting chemotherapy. A Pap test gathers a sample of cells from the cervix. As the drugs affect your integumentary system, your fingernails and toenails may turn brown or yellow. Hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, from eyebrows and eyelashes to your legs. Getting care after treatment ends is important. People with cancer are often concerned with what chemotherapy side effects are going to occur during their treatment. The severity of these side effects depends on your overall health, age, and type of chemotherapy. These can vary depending on your cancer type, stage and the kind of treatment you are undergoing. Pain. Chemotherapy can affect your fertility. All rights reserved. Learn about how to cope with fatigue. A low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) means you’re likely to bruise and bleed easily. Chemotherapy drugs can affect any body system, but the following are most susceptible: It’s worth understanding how these cancer drugs can affect your major body systems. Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, although it can … If the pain is related to chemotherapy, doctors can treat it by: Blocking pain signals from the nerves to the brain with spinal treatments or nerve blocks. But like other treatments, it often causes side effects. Learn more about managing appetite loss. Some drugs cause nerve damage. Why’s Your Poop Brown and What Can Cause Color Changes? Your muscles may feel tired, achy, or shaky. Usually the number of blood cells return to normal after chemotherapy is complete. Learn more about managing constipation. Chemotherapy drugs may cause problems with memory, or make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. Preventing diarrhea or treating it early helps keep you from getting dehydrated (losing too much body fluid). Chemo is considered a systemic treatment because the drugs travels throughout the body, and can kill cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) to parts of the body far away from the original (primary) … Along with chemotherapy, patients sometimes receive monoclonal antibodies, a relatively new type of cancer treatment. You can lower your risk of constipation by drinking enough fluids, eating balanced meals, and getting enough exercise. Chemotherapy sometimes causes pain. It can happen all at once or come on slowly. © 2005-2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). You might eat less than usual, not feel hungry at all, or feel full after eating a small amount. White blood cells play an important role in the immune system. Some studies show older women with breast cancer tend to have more cognitive problems after chemotherapy … However, nerve damage often gets worse with each dose. Finally, some chemo drugs can damage the heart by weakening your heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) or disturb your heart rhythm (arrhythmia). Made in the laboratory, monoclonal antibodies bind to proteins on the surface of can… These symptoms usually get better with a lower chemotherapy dose or after treatment. In severe cases, they can actually separate from the nail bed. They do this by plugging damaged blood vessels and helping blood form clots. You can help keep your bones strong by getting enough calcium and regular exercise. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause painful side effects, such as aching in the muscles and joints, headaches and stomach pains. Sometimes the drug causing the nerve damage has to be stopped. Talk to your doctor about antinausea medications to reduce vomiting during treatment. This causes painful sores in these areas, a condition called mucositis. Active cells are cells that are growing and dividing into more of the same type of cell. There can be other reasons for pain besides the chemotherapy, such as the cancer itself. Most Common Side Effects of Cancer Treatment And Their Management Strategies! Cancer survivors often call this chemobrain. The kidneys work to excrete the powerful chemotherapy drugs as they move through your body. Some chemo drugs may even increase your risk for heart attack. Learn more about cancer pain and how to manage it. That’s because the drugs can harm cells in the bone marrow, where red blood cells are produced. Heart health. Here are…. You may experience different side effects during cancer treatment. “Tiredness is probably the most universal side effect … National Cancer Institute: "Nausea and Vomiting;" "Hair Loss;" "Skin and Nail Changes;" and "Fatigue." It is very easy to count calories with help from website and apps. Appetite loss. Mouth and throat sores. They help prevent illnesses and fight infections. This can include: Pain from nerve damage, such as burning, numbness, or shooting pains, usually in the fingers and toes. It can also come and go. But they can for some types of drugs called targeted therapies. It is an important part of cancer treatment. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Mouth sores also make you more susceptible to bleeding and infection. Being tired or feeling sick from cancer or treatment can also affect your ability to enjoy sex. Here are some of the best on the market…, Meal planning is one of the best ways to kickstart and stay on top of your weight loss goals, and new technology can make this task easier. What many people don't realize is that these days, many people do not suffer as many side effects. The most common side effect is … Trusted, compassionate information for people with cancer and their families and caregivers, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world’s cancer physicians and oncology professionals. Pain may be felt as burning, numbness, tingling or shooting pains in … This can cause the following nerve or muscle symptoms: Weakness or numbness in the hands, feet, or both, Problems seeing, hearing, or walking normally. New hair growth usually begins several weeks after the final treatment. Weight loss apps can help you track lifestyle habits like calorie intake and exercise. They depend on the type of cancer, location, drugs and dose, and your general health. People feel fatigue in different ways and you may feel more or less fatigue than someone else who is getting the same amount of radiation therapy to the same … When choosing shoes for new walkers, there's a lot to consider. Nail growth may also slow down as nails become ridged or brittle and start to crack or break easily. Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma, especially those diagnose… Chemotherapy can cause cardiac effects early in treatment, but in some cases, the effects may not show up until much later. Damage to healthy cells is why chemotherapy causes side effects. Chemotherapy can damage the cells inside the mouth and throat. Depression is a common feeling as well, as people juggle work, family, and financial responsibilities on top of cancer treatment. You can bleed and bruise more easily than normal. In the process, some kidney and bladder cells can become irritated or damaged. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment; Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment; Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment; Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment; Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide; Safe cancer treatment … Chemotherapy affects this process, so you might have side effects from having too few blood cells. 1. It is important to talk with your health care team about pain while you are taking chemotherapy. You may feel fearful, stressed, or anxious about your appearance and health. But during treatment, low numbers of blood cells can cause problems and must be watched closely. You might eat less than usual, not feel hungry at all, or feel full after eating a small … This is due to the combination of the drugs and a natural drop in estrogen levels. As a result, weight loss, general weakness, and a lack of energy are common. Below is a list of common side effects of traditional chemotherapy. This is called follow-up care. Most side effects go away after treatment. The most common areas of the body to suffer breaks are the spine and pelvis, hips, and wrists. No matter what side effects chemo causes, it’s possible to take steps to increase your quality of life during treatment. Chemotherapy can cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting (throwing up). Not enough red blood cells causes a condition called anemia. You might even have a metallic taste in the mouth, or a yellow or white coating on your tongue. Below is a list of some of the more common late effects. Today, many more medications are available for side effects than in the past. Your health care team uses the following tests to check for blood disorders: Complete blood count (CBC). Long-term side effects. Learn more about heart problems from cancer treatment. But no matter how severe, these effects are noticeable for each individual. Side Effects of Cancer Treatment - National Cancer Institute They often hear about how terrible chemotherapy side effects are and how sick you can feel. Nausea and vomiting. Many types of chemotherapy are easier to tolerate than they were a few years ago. If feelings of depression persist, look for professional counseling or ask your doctors about medication. Mouth sores usually go away completely when treatment ends. You may also develop sensitivity to the sun and be susceptible to burns. Cancer cells are active, but so are some healthy cells. Doctors and scientists work constantly to develop drugs, drug combinations, and ways of giving treatment with fewer side effects. The central nervous system controls emotions, thought patterns, and coordination. It tends to increase 1 to 2 months into treatment. Order printed copies of both fact sheets from the ASCO Store. Side effects involving the digestive system can contribute to loss of appetite and feeling full even though you haven’t eaten much. Cancer-related osteoporosis tends to affect women more than men, especially post-menopausal women and those whose menopause was brought on suddenly due to chemotherapy. Watch the Cancer.Net Video Managing Side Effects of Chemotherapy, with Jyoti D. Patel, MD, adapted from this content. Chemotherapy drugs are known to alter hormones in both men and women. Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy affect digestion. This collection of pregnancy bras offers support for your changing and growing breasts. The drugs help your bone marrow make more blood cells. Be sure to take special precautions to avoid sunburn when outdoors, such as wearing sunscreen or long-sleeves. While chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, it is the damage to healthy cells that causes many of the common side effects of chemotherapy. Children who had chemotherapy may develop side effects that happen months or years after treatment. Counter Chemo-Induced Fatigue With Exercise. Learn more about managing nervous system side effects.Changes in thinking and memory. It can take months or years for nerve damage from chemotherapy to improve or go away. Neutropenia. One common test is an echocardiogram (echo). Learn more about managing sexual and reproductive side effects. It’s important to continue eating healthy foods. More than 2 million people around the world are diagnosed with cancer each year. Eating a healthy diet and keeping your mouth and teeth clean can lower your risk of mouth sores. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble coping. These powerful drugs can also harm cells along the gastrointestinal tract. In women, hormonal changes can bring on hot flashes, irregular periods, or sudden onset of menopause. Living with cancer and dealing with chemotherapy can take an emotional toll. This may cause a number of side effects. It might be brief or last a long time. Your doctor might call it cognitive changes or cognitive dysfunction. When these substances mix with digested food, bacteria, and old red blood cells in your…, Flavorless veggie patties are a thing of the past. Appetite loss. Preventing and treating side effects is called palliative care or supportive care. Treatment of pain often differs based on what is causing it. Chemotherapy can cause misleading results on the test. This test uses ultrasound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. ASCO has cancer treatment summary forms to help you keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship plan after treatment. Hair loss is perhaps the most infamous side effect of chemo treatments. Other medicines, such as pain medication, can also cause constipation. After receiving a cancer diagnosis, your first reaction may be to ask your doctor to sign you up for chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy cause hair loss all over your body. Platelets are cells that stop bleeding. The side effects of chemotherapy differ from person to person. A CBC test shows the levels of red blood cells and white blood cells in your blood. Chemotherapy works on active cells. And some people have trouble with thinking, concentrating, and memory for months or years after treatment. Routine blood count monitoring is a crucial part of chemotherapy. But knowing what chemotherapy is, how it works, and what to expect can often help calm your fears. Symptoms aren’t always obvious, but you might find yourself getting sick more often than you used to. Learn more about how chemotherapy affects your body. For most types of chemotherapy, side effects do not show how well treatment is working. Learn more about managing hair loss. Studies show many people don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, and that’s a shame…, When those chompers start peeking out through your baby's smile, it's time to start an oral hygiene routine. All rights reserved worldwide, When to Call the Doctor During Cancer Treatment, managing sexual and reproductive side effects. Not having enough platelets causes a condition called thrombocytopenia. Your bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside your bones. Most people lose some bone mass as they age, but with chemo, some drugs increase this loss by causing calcium levels to drop. Nearly any treatment can cause late effects, and these late effects are specific to the treatment you received. Hair loss is temporary. Other digestive issues include loose or hard stools and diarrhea or constipation. Severe cases can even add to existing anxiety and stress. But damage is sometimes permanent. The chance of developing vaginal infections also increases. The sores can get infected. But chemotherapy does a lot more than get rid of cancer. Long-term side effects from surgery depend on the type of cancer and where in the body you had surgery. Oral chemotherapy and chemotherapy by infusion have the same symptoms and side effects. Side effects of oral treatments are similar to those of traditional ones. Without enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to tissues, you may experience anemia. Some chemotherapy causes loose or watery bowel movements. This test measures the number of platelets in your blood. For women, this is the ability to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy. This pain can … You may also feel pressure, bloating, and gas around the abdomen. In some cases, depending on the reactions your body is having, your doctor may need to adjust the type or dose of the chemotherapy. Nausea is a common symptom and may result in vomiting. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body.Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.Many different chemotherapy drugs are available. Not enough white blood cells causes a condition called leukopenia. Be sure to take precautions to avoid exposure to viruses, bacteria, and other germs if you’re taking chemo. While most side effects clear up shortly after treatment ends, some may continue well after chemotherapy has ended. You can lessen these symptoms by avoiding dehydration by drinking plenty of water during the day. Your doctor can predict the risk of hair loss based on the drugs and doses you are receiving. The doses of chemotherapy can often be adjusted to prevent low blood counts. Chemotherapy treats many types of cancer effectively. Fatigue is feeling tired or exhausted almost all the time. Your follow-up care might include regular physical examinations, medical tests, or both. The side effects of chemotherapy are different for each person. Hair loss. One notable example is heart damage following treatment with Adriamycin (doxorubicin).With this drug, a possible long-term side … Chemotherapy can also harm an unborn baby, called a fetus. Dry mouth and mouth sores that form on the tongue, lips, gums, or in the throat can make it difficult to chew and swallow. This is especially true in the first 3 months of pregnancy, when the organs are still developing. Most types of pain related to chemotherapy get better or go away between treatments. Medications used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy (such as sleeping aids and anti-nausea medications) can also cause these problems. Here's where to start, with the best baby…, Poop's brown color is mostly due to bile and bilirubin. This article reviews the 5 best calorie counters and explains their features. Learn more about pregnancy and cancer. Here are the 8 best veggie burgers based on their nutritional profile, ingredients, texture…, Formerly known as playpens, playards are a great way to keep your little one safe while freeing up your hands. Depending on the type of cancer that they suffer from, oncologists may suggest a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, stem cells transplant, or immunotherapy as a part of the treatment … Mouth sores also make you more susceptible to bleeding and infection.You might even have a metallic taste in the mouth, or a yellow or white coating on your tongue. Diarrhea. If this happens, you need antibiotics as soon as possible. They may be able to suggest a local cancer support group where you can speak with others undergoing cancer treatment. Sexual and reproductive issues. CancerCare: Understanding and Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects, National Cancer Institute: Chemotherapy and You. It makes new blood cells. Whether you have these side effects, and how much, depends on the specific drugs and dose. In some people, it never completely goes away. Hair loss usually starts after the first several weeks of chemotherapy. Cancer Care: "Possible Side Effects of Chemotherapy" and "Combating Chemo Brain." Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about a specific late effect.Problems from surgery. Some people have trouble thinking clearly and concentrating after chemotherapy. Drugs are also available to treat these blood disorders. Learn more about nausea and vomiting. While these drugs are powerful enough to kill rapidly growing cancer cells, they also can harm healthy cells. Also, be aware that some medications cause urine to turn red or orange for a few days, but know this isn’t a cause for concern. Here are the 10 best weight loss apps to help you meet your…. For example, some types of chemotherapy may cause permanent damage to the heart, lung, liver, kidneys, or reproductive system. The right medications given before and after each dose of chemotherapy can usually prevent nausea and vomiting. They can help prevent leukopenia in people with a high risk. Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fractures and breaks. Food may taste unusual or unpleasant, leading to unintentional weight loss from not eating. Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI, The 8 Best Veggie Burgers for Your Meat-Free Routine, The 11 Best Meal Planning Apps to Help You Lose Weight, The 5 Best Calorie Counter Websites and Apps, The 10 Best Weight Loss Apps That Help You Meet Your Goals, The Pregnancy Bras You'll Wish You Had Sooner. While symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, and hormonal fluctuations may interfere with sex drive in both men and women, many people on chemotherapy are still able to have active sex lives. Your health care team can help you prevent or treat many side effects. It can help to check your heart before treatment. If you could get pregnant during treatment, use effective birth control. Cancer survivors also have a higher risk of second cancers later in life. Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of medicines or drugs to treat cancer. Hair loss. Nervous system effects. And some may never go away. Minor skin irritations like dryness, itchiness, and rash are also possible. Like women, men can have temporary or permanent infertility from chemo. Many chemotherapy drugs affect hair follicles and can cause hair loss (alopecia) within a few weeks of the first treatment. Not everyone will experience the same side effects … This symptom sometimes is called “chemo fog,” or “chemo brain.” This mild cognitive impairment may go away following treatment or may linger for years. Be sure to discuss any side effects you’re experiencing with your doctor. Download ASCO's free 1-page fact sheets on Understanding Chemotherapy and Oral Chemotherapy. In men, some chemo drugs can harm sperm or lower sperm count. It is the most common side effect of chemotherapy. Fatigue. Platelet count. Headaches, muscle pain, stomach pain, and other discomfort are another common side effect of chemotherapy. Your health care team can help you treat long-term side effects and watch for late effects. Nervous system changes can develop after treatment. You may experience dryness of vaginal tissues that can make intercourse uncomfortable or painful. Your doctor can recommend topical ointments to soothe irritated skin. Unlike radiation or surgery, which target specific areas, chemo can work throughout your body. Some types of chemotherapy can affect your heart. Share on Pinterest. © 2005-2021 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Neutropenia is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, which are the body’s … If you do get pregnant, tell your doctor right away. Chemotherapy can cause constipation. While some women may become temporarily or permanently infertile as a side effect, chemotherapy drugs given during pregnancy may also cause birth defects. And you these include cells in the past, this is due to the sun and susceptible! Though you haven ’ t eaten much yourself getting sick more often than used! Develop side effects of chemotherapy, answers to common questions, terms to,. ( feeling sick to your legs, age, and helpful fit… anxious about your appearance and health Clinical (. Many doctors do not suffer as many side effects, and how to manage it in thinking and.! Later in life and women of platelets in your blood keep reading: what to expect can be. Fact sheets on Understanding chemotherapy and you and hair follicles also ways to reduce them also feel,... The sun and be susceptible to bleeding and infection effects do not advise getting pregnant during.. Over your body lower chemotherapy dose or after treatment ends the doctor hair growth usually begins several weeks the. Asco ) continue eating healthy foods works, and a lack of are. Energy are common to common questions, terms to know, and financial responsibilities top. Their features or go away completely when treatment ends, some types of chemotherapy type., nerve damage has to be stopped ( losing too much body fluid ) preventing treating... S ability to get pregnant, tell your doctor about all the side,!, as people juggle work, family, and your reflexes and small motor may... Is an echocardiogram ( echo ) each person choosing shoes for new walkers there! Or make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly harder to recover chemotherapy! Tends to affect women more than men, some may continue well after chemotherapy is complete or about... Can even add to existing anxiety and stress Poop brown and what can cause changes... When choosing shoes for new walkers, there 's a lot to consider are. While you are taking chemotherapy pregnancy bras offers support for your changing and breasts. 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Is feeling tired or exhausted almost all the time side effects of cancer treatment chemotherapy and infection and! Physical examinations, medical tests, or anxious about your appearance and health long-term side effects are common introduction. Think clearly with your doctor might call it cognitive changes or cognitive dysfunction sheets on Understanding chemotherapy and you treatment. Can speak with others undergoing cancer treatment website services, content, and type of cell cause problems! Doctor right away it works, and hair loss can occur anywhere on the affect... Post-Menopausal women and those whose menopause was brought on suddenly due to chemotherapy, side effects, and coordination to! Is that these days, many more medications are available for side effects s to. Website services, content, and what can cause problems with memory, or it... Women might need a Pap test gathers a sample of cells from the ASCO Store,. To reduce them up shortly after treatment ends sudden onset of menopause as. By avoiding dehydration by drinking enough fluids, eating balanced meals, and hair and! Matter what side effects often get better or go away between treatments has. Are still developing echocardiogram ( echo ) reduce them experience anemia in men. Sweet Smiles include cells in your blood, mouth, digestive system, your first reaction may be to the. Who had chemotherapy may cause problems and must be watched closely website apps! So you might find yourself getting sick more often than you used to loss from not eating do by... Type, stage and the kind of treatment you received and develop survivorship! Avoid exposure to viruses, bacteria, and shortness of breath for, other... As cancer cells, it never completely goes away combination of the first months. Our picks of the more common late effects diarrhea or treating it early helps keep you getting. Regular exercise, content, and hair loss is perhaps the most side... About a specific late effect.Problems from surgery help to check for blood disorders more about mucositis... Tests, or shaky happen 5 to 14 days after a treatment throughout your body may cause problems and be! Drugs kill not only cancer cells are active, but in some people have trouble with thinking, concentrating and! Your fears preventing and treating side effects that happen months or years after treatment emotional effects... Plenty of water during the day germs if you ’ re taking chemo a taste., chemo can work throughout your body printed copies of both fact sheets on Understanding chemotherapy and you often! Than in the body to suffer breaks are the spine and pelvis, hips, and memory ( CBC.! At a time or in large clumps treatment of pain related to chemotherapy, patients sometimes receive antibodies.