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15 Common Side Effects of Cancer Chemotherapy

17 February, 2021 Rishika Chawla

Chemotherapy is a type of therapy that is used to treat different types of cancer like lung, breast, mouth and various others. Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to stop the growth or kill the cells that cause cancer. Various drugs are designed for chemotherapy. Some of the drugs used in Chemotherapy can cause pain and other side effects like bruising, chest pain, breathing problems, respiration problems and many more.

The 15 Most common side effects of Chemotherapy

1. Hair loss: Hair loss is common when you begin the treatment of your cancer through chemotherapy. It usually begins to fall after 2 to 3 weeks. Not only the hair on scalp but the hairs under arms, pubic region, eyebrows and eyelids counts to the loss. Both men and women experience such hair loss on their bed, pillow, brush and other areas. It changes your appearance causing discomfort. Once you have lost your hair, they take time to regrow. But the hair which grows now will be different from the original one. Scientists have searched for various treatments to know that if this hair loss can be prevented. But these methods are not found yet. One must know that during chemotherapy hair loss is natural and real.

2. Digestive system: Problems in digestive system may occur due to cancer treatments. Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells, however sometimes it targets the normal cells present in the intestine which makes the body to react differently. Due to killing of normal cells problems like constipation and diarrhea can arise. Diarrhea on the other hand is found to occur in 60% of treated patients.

3. Fertility: The damage to ovary is seen during Chemotherapy. Ovary damage may result to low fertility in women and some cases in men. Chances of bearing a child decreases.

4. Effect on blood: Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets all are present in bone marrow. But when someone possesses the Chemotherapy treatment the ability of bone marrow to create these cells get reduced. Other effects come to rise like risk of infection, anaemia, bruising and bleeding. This can lower the number of platelets in the body that helps in clotting and stopping the blood. If the number of platelets drops there will be more chances of bleeding, red spots and red nose.

5. Skin changes: Skin changes are a bit more common in the treatment of cancer. Your skin may get dried, peel off, itchy, red, darker and many more changes. Minor or major rashes can also be developed. This is called pigmentation.

6. Memory and concentration: After cancer treatment can result in problems with thinking and memory. Chemo brain is the most common term used for the problems arising in brain due to this therapy. This fogginess may last for five or more years.

7. Fatigue: Chemotherapy and other therapies which prevent cancer may cause fatigue. Fatigue may be experienced when along with cancer cells healthy cells get damaged. It can also happen when body stops recovering. It stops within 1 month after treatment but sometimes it might take 3 to 4 months.

8. Menopause: Chemotherapy contains various drugs such as Cytoxan. This may lead to the problems in ovaries causing irregular periods and blood flow. In some cases complete damage to ovaries are also seen.

9. Peripheral Neuropathy: Neuropathy can be painful for some people. It comes with the result of therapies of cancer and sometimes goes off when treatment gets completed.

10. Dental problems: Dental problems like changing in the linings of mouth in salivary glands which makes saliva can be caused due to Chemotherapy. Mouth infection, sores, tooth decay can also be some long term effects in dental cases.

11. Breathing: There could be various problems due to chemotherapy including respiratory problems which means your lungs don't have enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout your body. A non-cancer lung condition, like asthma, COPD, or an allergy, shortness of breath can also be a result of tumors in lungs.

12. Hand foot syndrome: Growth of some small cells stop due to cancer cells treatment or Chemotherapy on hands and foot. This may cause hand foot syndrome. This causes symptoms that range from redness and swelling to problems in walking.

13. Sickness: Sickness can be felt by some people while others may not experience it. Vomiting, nausea and other sickness may be due to therapies and radiations.

14. Long term effects: Chemotherapy is believed to cause some long term effects to the body. This includes effect on brain, spinal cord and nerves. Sometimes the risk of strokes also increases from high doses of radiation.

15. Nail changes: Mostly during the treatment lines are formed on the nails or it gets yellowish in color. People may experience different colors and sometimes complete loss of nail due to a drug named Taxanes.

What's the outlook?
Chemotherapy is one of the major treatments for getting rid of cancer which has some side effects of It's own as discussed. Proper care and medication may reduce the damage.


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