You may be able to change your medicine or treatment schedule. Whether you or someone you love has cancer, knowing what to expect can help you cope. Physician's Cancer Chemotherapy Drug Manual, 2019. Cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells. Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your chemo, how long they might last, how bad they might be, and when you should call the doctor’s office about them. Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Guidelines and Recommendations for Practice. They may recommend painkillers or a special mouthwash that can help. Many people want to take an active role in improving their overall health. Illness and a weakened immune system. The American Cancer Society couldn’t do what we do without the support of our partners. Some people having chemotherapy have difficulty falling asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep. Your doctor can talk with you about the safety of using other medicines, vitamins, and supplements while you are being treated for cancer. Here's a list of many of the common side effects, but it's unlikely you'll have all of these. Contact your cancer care team right away if you have any of the following symptoms during chemo treatment: Ask your cancer care team if there are any other problems they should know about right away. Hair loss can be upsetting. For instance, platelets help blood clot and prevent bleeding. Dry mouth and mouth sores that form on the tongue, lips, gums, or in the throat can make it difficult to chew and swallow. It’s also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. While the side effects of chemotherapy can be distressing, most are not serious. But they can for some types of drugs called targeted therapies. Page last reviewed: 29 January 2020 Some chemotherapy medicines can also reduce fertility in men and women. Men may be able to have a sample of their sperm frozen so it can be used for artificial insemination at a later date. Contact your care team immediately if you have any symptoms of an infection, these include: You should have been given a card with emergency phone numbers to call. Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Guidelines and Recommendations for Practice. Cold caps also work better with certain types of chemotherapy medicine, and they do not always work. It's most common to lose hair from your head, but you can also lose it from other parts of your body, including your arms, legs and face. Damage to healthy cells causes side effects. Many side effects go away fairly quickly, but some might take months or even years to go away completely. Mouth, tongue, and throat problems such as sores and pain with swallowing, Peripheral neuropathy or other nerve problems, such as numbness, tingling, and pain, Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change, Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems, Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus. Tell your care team if your medicine does not help, or it causes too many side effects. Still, many people have no long-term problems from chemo. Fatigue. Whether you want to learn about treatment options, get advice on coping with side effects, or have questions about health insurance, we’re here to help. Things such as using lists, post-it notes, calendars and your mobile phone for reminders can help. Cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and reproductive system. Use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom. What does it take to outsmart cancer? Side effects are not always as bad as you might expect, but it's normal to worry about this part of cancer treatment. If your doctor has not told you to take vitamins, it’s best not to take any. Learn more about these partnerships and how you too can join us in our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Certain types of chemo sometimes cause delayed effects, such as a second cancer that may show up many years later. Mouth sores also make you more susceptible to bleeding and infection.You might even have a metallic taste in the mouth, or a yellow or white coating on your tongue. You can also call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00 (every day, 8am-8pm). Sometimes the side effects can last a lifetime, such as when chemo causes long-term damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, or reproductive organs. How Is Chemotherapy Used to Treat Cancer? It may be possible to reduce the chances of hair loss by wearing a cold cap while you're having chemotherapy. Until we do, we’ll be funding and conducting research, sharing expert information, supporting patients, and spreading the word about prevention. It's difficult to predict what side effects you'll get. This should go back to normal after your treatment has finished. There may be a different one that works better for you. This is often temporary, but it can be permanent in some cases. Tell your care team if you're worried about your diet or lack of appetite. The hair loss is almost always temporary. Speak to your care team if you're struggling to cope emotionally. People often become discouraged about how long their treatment lasts or the side effects they have. Find Support Programs and Services in Your Area, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks, Common Questions About the COVID-19 Outbreak. Other options include headwear, such as a headscarf. It is the most common side effect of chemotherapy. This is known as insomnia. Chemotherapy can reduce the number of cells called platelets in your blood. These are called late effects. In Olsen MM, LeFebvre KB, Brassil KJ, eds. Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy affect digestion. Talk to your care team if you have any problems with your skin. Every person doesn’t get every side effect, and some people get few, if any. You may lose your appetite while you're having chemotherapy, but you should try to drink plenty of fluids and eat what you can. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Ask your care team if it's likely to be a side effect of the medicines you're taking. They want to help their body’s natural defenses fight the cancer and speed up their recovery from chemo. You may have diarrhoea or constipation a few days after you begin chemotherapy.
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