Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Because chemotherapy drugs often can’t distinguish between rapidly dividing cancer cells and rapidly dividing healthy cells, they may cause side effects at the same time that they’re fighting your cancer. For example, some people may experience one or more of the following:

  • anemia
  • appetite changes
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • hair loss
  • infection
  • infertility
  • low blood cell counts
  • mouth sores or changes in taste
  • nausea and vomiting
  • urinary incontinence and other urination changes

Other Side Effects

  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • fluid retention or swelling
  • memory or thinking problems
  • nerve changes or neuropathy (tingling of the fingers and toes)
  • sexual health issues
  • weakened heart muscle

For many people, side effects from chemotherapy lessen or go away completely after chemotherapy is stopped. Because everyone is different, it’s hard to know what your particular experience will be like. Your reaction to chemotherapy will vary depending on the drug, the dose, the combination, and the schedule in which it’s given. For these and other reasons, it’s important to tell us about how you’re doing along the way.

Maintaining your quality of life is one of our priorities. Your cancer care team will review the side effects you may experience from your specific treatment regimen in advance and give you strategies to minimize or manage these symptoms. During treatment, we’ll watch carefully for your reaction to the drugs and adjust the drug or dosage as necessary. We’ll also continue to monitor you for possible long-term effects after your treatment ends