Chemotherapy can cause a range of side effects, including:
Hair Loss: also called Alopecia, is the thinning or loss of hair during Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. Such hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs, and pelvis, but it is usually only temporary. A patient’s hair normally grows back after the treatment is complete.
Nausea Or Vomiting: Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy can cause nausea or vomiting, but these side-effects can be counteracted with other drugs called antiemetics.
Fatigue: is a common side effect of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. Fatigue normally goes away after the treatment is completed, but it can take weeks or months until it is completely gone.
Myelosuppression: a term used when chemotherapy temporarily interferes with the ability of the bone marrow to produce adequate numbers of blood cells.
Anemia: occurs when Myelosuppression causes a reduction in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin (contained in the red blood cells). Anemia can cause people to feel very tired.
Neutropenia: occurs when Myelosuppression causes a decrease in neutrophils, which are the primary type of white blood cells found in the blood and they play a very important role in fighting infection. A low neutrophils count may allow you to develop serious or even life-threatening infections that require hospitalization or antibiotic therapy.
Thrombocytopenia: occurs when Myelosuppression depletes the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets help the clotting of blood to prevent bleeding. If a patient’s platelet count is low, they may bruise easily, or suffer from prolonged or excessive bleeding from cuts, nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums, or bleeding without a previous injury.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea can be a side-effect of chemotherapy, although usually this is not severe. Avoiding dehydration by drinking plenty of water is essential.
Mouth Sores: During Chemo, the membranes of your mouth may become red, sore, or irritated, a condition referred to as mucositis. Infections of the mouth and throat caused by viruses or fungi may also occur. Various medications are available to treat this condition.
Changes In Taste: Some patients may experience a change in the way foods or beverages taste. Familiar foods may taste differently (a condition known as dysgeusia) or the flavors of foods are not as strong as they used to be (a condition known as hypogeusia). Some people may also believe that foods have a metallic taste. These side effects are temporary and typically disappear after the chemotherapy treatment is completed.
Other Side Effects: other possible side effects of chemotherapy include cough, a decrease in lung or heart function, skin rashes, weakness, sore throat, pain, a loss of balance or coordination, and nerve damage (which can cause constipation or a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes).
Many of these side-effects are temporary and they typically disappear after the treatment is completed. However, some may continue for weeks or months. Various treatments are available to help patients deal with these side effects. Discuss any side-effects you experience with your doctor so that the best treatment options can be organized.