Side effects and symptoms

Late effects of breast cancer treatment

Breast cancer treatment may have side effects that don’t go away or develop years later. We have tips to help you manage them.

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    Possible late effects of breast cancer treatment

    Some women may have side effects that do not go away or develop years after treatment for breast cancer.

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    Changes to the breast or arm

    Treatment for breast cancer can cause changes in the look and feel of the breast and arm.

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    Menopausal symptoms

    Some treatments for breast cancer may cause an early menopause or menopausal symptoms. There are ways to manage this.

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    Tiredness or fatigue

    Tiredness (fatigue) is probably the most common side effect of breast cancer treatment. There are ways of coping with this.

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    Effects on fertility

    Some breast cancer treatments can affect your fertility. This may be temporary or permanent depending on the treatment you have had and your age.

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    Sexuality

    Breast cancer and its treatments can affect your sex life. Difficulties often gradually improve and some side effects can be managed.

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    Concentration and memory problems

    After treatment, some people have difficulty concentrating or remembering things. This usually gets better over time.

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    Effects on the heart

    Some treatments for breast cancer can increase the risk of getting heart problems later in life.

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    Effects on the lungs

    Very rarely, radiotherapy to the breast area can affect the lungs. This can cause breathlessness.

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    Effects on the bones

    Breast cancer treatment may increase the risk of bone thinning (osteoporosis) or may damage the bones.

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    Weight gain

    You may gain weight during or after treatment for breast cancer. This can be a side effect of some drugs.

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    Peripheral neuropathy

    You may have symptoms of pins and needles due to nerve damage caused by chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy.