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Chemotherapy Side Effects   

Chemotherapy is the most common therapy used to treat cancer. It involves the use of therapeutic chemicals (anti-cancer drugs) to damage the DNA of malignant cells (cancerous cells), thus preventing them from reproducing. During each session, the medications can be taken intravenously, orally in the form of pill or by injection into the body cavity. Depending on the condition of the patient, one agent or a combination of two or more chemo agents is administered. Generally, chemotherapy is given in cycles. Each cycle is administered every 1 to 4 weeks following by a rest period between every cycle. This period of rest is very important to allow the body to recuperate.  

In general, chemotherapy drugs work by damaging cancer cells in the entire body, preventing them from spreading among healthy cells. The medications travel throughout the body which causes them to also damage healthy cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract, hair follicle, mouth and reproductive system. In addition, some chemotherapy drugs can affect the cells in the lungs, heart, bladder, kidneys as well as the nervous system. This can lead to serious many side effects in certain patients. Those adverse effects can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) or permanent, depending on the type of drugs administered and the patient's health.  

Most common side effects patients experience during chemotherapy include: 

Diarrhea and Constipation 

Chemotherapy tends to attack the cells in the intestinal lining, causing diarrhea, constipation and pain. In addition, the diarrhea can be due to radiation to abdomen or pelvis, anxiety, stress, malnutrition or colon surgery...

 

Skin Problems  

Chemotherapy related skin problems such as dry skin, skin rashes, hives, flushing (redness of the face and neck), and swelling of the eyelids, lips and tongue...

 

Nausea and Vomiting  

Nausea and Vomiting are two of the most common malaise associated with chemotherapy. In fact, most chemotherapy drugs tend to cause nausea and vomiting...

 

Fatigue and Tiredness 

Fatigue due to chemotherapy tends to occur suddenly and can last days, weeks or months in certain patients. The duration depends on the patient health, lifestyle and... 

 

Hair loss 

hair loss (alopecia) is the most common visible side effects of chemotherapy. Most patients undergoing chemo lose their hair from the treatment...

 

Anemia 

It is estimated that 70% of cancer patients experience anemia during the course of their chemo treatments... 

 

Loss of Appetite 

Cancer patients often complain about loss of appetite. This can be caused by the cancer therapy or the cancer itself. In some, the low appetite can be the result of the side of the treatment...

 

Weight Loss 

weight loss is one of the undesirable side effects cancer patients complain about chemotherapy. The weight loss can be caused by several factors...

 

Sore Mouth, Gums and Throat 

Sore mouth, gums and throat is commonly experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy; it is a frequent chemotherapy side effect...

 

Kidney and Bladder Problems 

Kidney and bladder problems are among chemotherapy side effects. Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary or permanent Kidney and bladder damages if proper care is not taken...

 

Low Sex Drive 

Decreased libido is one of common side effects of chemotherapy drugs. Many patients complain about lack of sexual desire during and weeks after undergoing cancer treatment...

 

Infertility  

Infertility is not out of the picture when it comes to chemotherapy side effects. Some chemotherapy treatments may reduce or completely stop the inability to have children in both men and women... 

 

Oral Complications Related To Chemotherapy and Radiation...

Discover common Oral Complications Related To Chemotherapy and Radiation in The Head and Neck and steps you can take to prevent them