An overview of the side effects of chemotherapy
The side effects you get will depend on the chemotherapy drugs you’re having. Different drugs cause different side effects. Some side effects are mild and easily treated.
Others can be harder to manage but can often be reduced or helped in some way.
Most side effects are short term and usually stop or gradually go away when chemotherapy is over. Although the side effects can be unpleasant, the benefits of chemotherapy usually outweigh this.
If you’re having a single drug you won’t usually have as many side effects as someone having a combination of drugs. People having high doses of chemotherapy and who need to stay in hospital may have more complex side effects.
Your cancer doctor and nurse specialist will explain the side effects that your chemotherapy is likely to cause.
Always tell your doctor or nurse about any side effects. They can usually prescribe medicines to reduce them or change medicines you’re already taking to more effective ones.
The main areas of your body that may be affected by chemotherapy are where there’s a high turnover of normal cells, such as the:
bone marrow (where blood cells are made)
lining of your mouth
hair follicles (where hair grows from).