To treat cancer, doctors often prescribe strong treatments like
chemotherapy or radiation therapy. While these treatments are effective
against the cancer, they also have an adverse effect on the patient's body
and result in many unpleasant side effects.
Some of the side effects can be handled, while others just have to be
tolerated. However, it's always best to be informed about the possibilities
so you can be emotionally and physically prepared to deal with them. Let's
discuss the side effects of each treatment in detail:
Side Effects of Chemotherapy:
Cancer cells grow and multiply quickly and anti drugs basically aim to
destroy such cells. But there are certain normal cells that also grow and
multiply rapidly, and chemotherapy can sometimes affect these cells as well,
this is what causes side effects some patients experience.
Side effects vary from person to person, and it is possible that you may
have only some or none or all of these side effects. The severity and type
of side effects depend on the length of and type of chemotherapy you
Usually side effects go away when the chemotherapy has ended because
normal cells have the chance to grow and multiply normally. Most people do
not face any long-term problem from chemotherapy, but in some cases
chemotherapy can cause permanent changes or damage certain organs.
Some common side effects of chemotherapy are discussed below:
One of the most common side effects related to chemotherapy is fatigue.
Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. Fatigue faced by
cancer patients differs greatly from fatigue faced by normal people. Rest
does not always relive this kind of fatigue and it can last for days, weeks
Chemotherapy can sometimes damage nerves that can produce a burning
sensation or a tingling or shooting pain. Most often this pain occurs in the
toes and fingers of the patient. Pain is not faced by everyone who undergoes
chemotherapy, but is fairly common. If you feel pain, you do not have top
panic because this pain can be relieved. You should inform your doctor about
the pain and describe it as accurately as you can, and the doctor can give
you appropriate pain medicine.
Another very common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss, which is also
known as alopecia. Not all drugs cause hair loss and you can ask your doctor
whether the drug you are going to be taking ill cause hair loss or not. Hair
loss usually begins several weeks into the treatment and can occur in all
parts of the body ? underarms, head, face, and legs. In some cases, it so
happens that the hair grows back in a different color or texture so you must
not be alarmed by such an occurrence.
Nausea and Vomiting:
Often, patients who undergo chemotherapy face feelings of nausea and
vomiting, but new drugs considerably reduce such feelings. Different drugs
work for different people ad your doctor may be able to advice you on which
drug is best suited for you. Make sure you inform your doctor is the feeling
of nausea is extreme or vomiting occurs fairly frequently.
Some people who have previously undergone radiation develop a side effect
known as radiation recall during their chemotherapy treatment. What actually
happens in radiation recall is that the area of skin that had previously
been exposed to radiation turns red ? the red can be of any shade ranging
from bright to dark red. You should inform your doctor about such an
occurrence. Radiation recall may last from a few hours to several days.
Some other side effects caused by chemotherapy are:
Infection Anemia Kidney and bladder effects Blood clotting Fluid
retention Diarrhea Flu-like symptoms Constipation Low platelet count Mouth,
gum and throat problems Central nervous system problems Skin and nail
Radiation therapy is very hard on the body and produces heat not only on the
radiation site but also all through out the body. It causes burns and also
destroys healthy tissue. This must be treated both topically and orally.
Topical treatment is placed on the radiation site to decrease the burn on
the healthy tissue and preserve it, but also increase the effect of the
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