Steroids are substances that are naturally produced in the body. There are two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney.
Steroids help control many different functions in our bodies, for example:
- the way the body uses fats, proteins and carbohydrates
- regulating our immune system and the balance of salt and water in our bodies
- reducing inflammation.
Steroids can be manufactured synthetically as drugs. There are several types of steroids and they all have different effects on the body. Common types of steroids used in cancer treatment are:
Steroids can be used:
- as part of your treatment to help destroy cancer cells and make chemotherapy more effective
- to help reduce an allergic reaction to certain drugs
- in low doses as anti-sickness drugs to improve your appetite.
In these situations, steroids are usually given only for short periods of time, and you won’t usually get the side effects described here.