Late effects of chemotherapy

Late effects of chemotherapy

Some people may have late effects from the 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. Occasionally, some chemotherapy drugs may increase the risk of developing heart or lung problems or rarely a second cancer. Some drugs may cause an early menopause, infertility – in both men and women or peripheral neuropathy.

Second cancer

Some chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk of developing some 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.

It’s important to remember late effects aren’t common and any risk of getting them is outweighed by the benefits of chemotherapy.

Effects on the heart or lungs

Back to Side effects and symptoms

Tiredness (fatigue)

The term often used for extreme tiredness is fatigue. Look at our information on managing tiredness through relaxation and other techniques.

Hair loss

Cancer treatment can cause hair loss. Find ways to cope, and to look after your hair and scalp.

Mouth problems

Cancer treatment such as chemotherapy can cause mouth problems. We have tips for keeping your mouth healthy.

Eating problems

Cancer and its treatment can cause problems with eating including sickness, appetite loss and a sore mouth. Find ways to deal with them.


If you're living with lymphoedema we have information and support for you.

Other side effects

Cancer has a range of side effects. Find out more about them and how to ease them.

Bone health

Some cancer treatments may affect your bones. Find tips to help you maintain healthy bones and improve your bone strength.