What are the possible side effects of the cancer treatments?

Home Cancer What are the possible side effects of the cancer treatments?
Cancer treatment side effects

Many side effects are associated with cancer treatment because of the damaging of healthy cells. The side effects can vary from individual to individual and treatment to treatment. Therefore, there is no fixed side effects burden that can occur in every cancer patient. Cancer patients should consult about the side effect with the healthcare team. They may help to manage side effects in different ways.

Cancer treatment side effects


Reduction of white blood cell count has been medically termed neutropenia.  Neutropenia causes frequent incidence of an infectious disease due to the weakening of body defense mechanism. Neutropenia is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Patients who have undergone chemotherapy often check for neutropenia during treatment.

The primary mechanism of action of chemotherapy is to kill malignant cell growth. But this often causes the killing of healthy white blood cells also. Automatically, white blood cells count drops in the body and make the patients more susceptible to infectious diseases.

Frequent hand washing during chemotherapy can reduce the risk of getting an infection. The doctor will give more measures to reduce the risk of getting infections. The occurrence of any sign and symptom of infection like fever or others requires immediate medical care.


Surgical intervention to remove lymph nodes or radiation therapy-induced damaging of lymph nodes or vessels leads to impaired drainage of lymph fluid. The fluid is then accumulated beneath the skin tissue and causes swelling of the body. This condition is termed lymphedema.

Hair Loss

Chemotherapy often causes alopecia or hair loss. Usually, the patient regains hair re-growth after two to three months of the end of the treatment cycle. Cancer patients often shave their heads before the hair falls starts or wear a hat, wig, or scarf during chemotherapy. A cooling cap-external may help to reduce the hair fall intensity. The cooling cap tightly fits on the head to keep the scalp cool before, during, and after the chemotherapy. However, the efficacy of cap-external depends upon the type of chemotherapy used.

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of cancer treatment. Stomach sickness or CTZ (vomiting center) stimulation due to mental tension can cause nausea and vomiting attacks. But the discovery of anti-emetic medicines can overcome this problem. The doctor often prescribes suitable anti-emetic drugs to the cancer patient who is undergone chemotherapy. Apart from anti-emetic medicines, a patient needs to take sufficient water to keep themselves hydrated. Ginger ale may help to prevent nausea tendency. Patients need to be relaxed before and after the cancer treatment. Some patients may need hypnosis or acupuncture for relaxation therapy.

Thinking and remembering difficulties 

The cancer treatment medications often cause difficulty in concentrating or remembering things. This is medically termed as chemo-brain. Cancer patients are often facing problems to perform their day-to-day tasks due to the occurrence of such difficulties. Plenty of sleep, making notes of daily works, setting reminders on a smartphone, and focusing on a task instead of doing multiple tasks at once are certain tips to manage the problems.

Pain symptom

Cancer itself as well as cancer treatment can cause pain symptoms. Pain makes it harder to perform normal activities and also reduces the quality of life. Pain management is an important step in the cancer treatment plan. Cancer patients need to discuss pain with doctors so that doctors can figure out the necessary action to control pain symptoms.

Thrombosis (blood clot) at deep vein

Thrombosis (blood clot) at a deep vein usually occurs in the pelvis, thigh, lower part of the leg. Sometimes, it can occur in the arm also. In some cases, deep vein thrombosis will break off and go to the lungs. Cancer patients who are under chemotherapy have a higher risk to develop deep vein thrombosis.

Other Side Effects

Many other side effects are also associated with cancer treatments like difficulty in eating, fatigue, diarrhea, flu-like symptom, constipation, bleeding, fertility issue, depression, etc.




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