Side Effects Of Chemotherapy

There is usually no pain associated with chemotherapy – just the initial insertion of the intravenous line.

There are many stories of the side effects of chemotherapy within the community from well meaning (though often ill-informed) people.  Each person responds differently to chemotherapy and to individual treatments.  You will be given a drug information sheet about each individual chemotherapy drug you receive, and this will explain the possible side effects.  Your GP will also receive details regarding your treatment.

Remember that the side effects listed are only the worst case scenario – they may not necessarily happen to you.

Some of the common side effects that may be experienced include tiredness, nausea and loss of appetite – but there are many drugs available today that are given to alleviate nausea (see page 7).

Another complication may include anaemia, and the side effects you may experience in relation to this include shortness of breath on any mild exertion, palpitations and lethargy, requiring you to rest often.  In the event that you develop anaemia, the nursing staff will discuss this with your oncologist, and you will be offered a blood transfusion (here at the Northern Cancer Institute).

Chemotherapy can lower your white blood cell count (the cells that fight infection).  This may happen approximately 10 days after each treatment.  If you begin to feel unwell we recommend you monitor your temperature.  A temperature greater than 38 degrees, needs medical review. Please contact your General Practitioner, or attend the Accident & Emergency Department nearest to you. It is also advisable to avoid crowds and people with known infection.

You should drink 2-3 litres of fluid every day for the 2-3 days following chemotherapy.

A high temperature is often the first indication of an infection other signs include runny nose, chills, aching bones and not feeling quite right.

For more information on side effects of Chemotherapy, please click on the links below: