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Side Effects

Side effects vary from person to person, even among people receiving the same type of cancer treatment.

Definition

Side effects can develop with both cancer and cancer treatment and can vary widely depending on the type of cancer and type of treatment.  There can be both short-term and long-term side effects and each person may respond differently to them.  Some of the most common side effects for treatment are fatigue, hair loss, anemia, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, pain and infection, rash, and sometimes even flu-like symptoms.  Side effects are not always just physical, but can be emotional too.  They may include emotional distress, such as an increase in anxiety or depression.  It’s always important to talk to your health care team about any side effects you might be noticing so that they can help you manage them.

Treatments*

There are a variety of treatment options available to you. It is up to you and your medical team which treatment option will be best for you. Some options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery
  • Clinical trial
  • Alternative treatments

Side Effects*

For support with your specific side effects, and to discuss treatment options, please consult your medical team.

Some side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • Anemia
  • Appetite Loss
  • Bleeding and Bruising
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Concentrating/ Memory
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Edema
  • Fatigue
  • Hair Loss
  • Insomnia
  • Lymphedema
  • Memory Problems
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Nerve Problems
  • Pain
  • Skin and Nail Changes
  • Insomnia
  • Urinary and Bladder Problems

Tips and Tricks

  1. Get rest when you can. Staying well rested allows your body to heal and aids in energy levels, which are often impacted by cancer treatments.
  2. Stay hydrated. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Cancer treatments (and their various side effects) cause dehydration through diarrhea and vomiting. Drink plenty of water. Add flavoring (such a lemon) to the water to increase your intake, or choose tea, milk, or fruit juice to quench your thirst.
  3.  Stay ahead of nausea. Nausea is very common after chemotherapy. Get your nausea prescriptions filled before you start your first round of chemo, and take them before treatments so they have adequate time to take effect. If that medication doesn’t work, talk to your medical team to find a replacement that works better for you. Ginger chews, peppermint gum, mints, popsicles, and hard candy may help as well, and fresh air never hurts.
  4. Eat what you can, when you can. Foods may taste different while undergoing treatment. Find healthy, nutritious options that appeal to you and your changing taste buds.

The information contained in the Treatments and Side Effects sections are for informational purposes only. As with any cancer type, treatments and side effects can differ by patient. Please consult your oncologist for the specific treatments and side effects for your specific cancer.

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