Late side effects of chemotherapy
Occasionally, people have late effects of chemotherapy. These are side effects you still have six months after chemotherapy, or side effects that begin years later.
Late effects aren’t common and any risk is outweighed by the benefits of chemotherapy.
Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse can explain any possible late effects of your chemotherapy treatment.
Different drugs cause different late effects. Some drugs may cause an early menopause or infertility. Other drugs may cause peripheral neuropathy, which is permanent in some people.
Some chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk of developing particular types of cancer or leukaemia later in life. This is rare, and your doctors will weigh up the small increase in risk of this happening, against the benefit of the chemotherapy in treating your cancer.
Effects on the heart or lungs
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Some chemotherapy drugs may increase the risk of heart or lung problems later in life. Your doctor can give you more information about this.
There are some things you can do that will help you optimise your health.
Regular physical activity is good for your heart and lungs, and it keeps your bones healthy - our section on physical activity and cancer treatment, which has tips on how to be more active.
Keeping to a healthy weight and eating healthily helps look after your heart and bones - our sections on healthy eating and cancer and weight management after cancer treatment has more information, which you may find useful.
If you smoke, giving up is the best decision you can make for your health. Smoking is a major risk for heart and lung problems and also affects your bone health. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and a major risk factor for other cancers. Our section on giving up smoking has information and tips to help you quit.