Cancer is a disease caused by the group of several other diseases leading to abnormal growth of cells which have the power or potential to spread in the other body parts.
Chemotherapy, referred shortly as ‘chemo’, is one of the types of treatments along with surgery, radiation therapy or biotherapy. These therapies can be performed individually or combined as a treatment plan depending on the situation.
Chemotherapy is considered as systemic therapy type, which means it can affect the entire body. The active cells of our body divide and grow rapidly and chemo works on these kind of cells. Cancer cells and some other healthy cells are also active like cells in mouth, blood, digestive system and hair follicles. There are side effects of this therapy that can negatively affect a person’s body. Have a look at the ones mentioned below.
10 Possible Side Effects of Chemotherapy:
1. Exhaustion or Fatigue:
It is a feeling of extreme physical and mental tiredness. But, the feeling of exhaustion differs in cancer which is caused due to the use of chemotherapy and can make one very weak.
2. Hair loss or Alopecia:
The hair loss caused due to drugs and doses while performing the chemotherapy is known as Alopecia. The hair will start coming off gradually or in large clumps after a while into chemotherapy and leaves one balded during the course of the treatment. While this is a more of beautifying side effect but can lead to depression for many.
3. Loss of Appetite:
Appetite loss may lead to harder recovery from chemo. The symptoms can be- lack of hunger, less consumption than usual, full after eating comparatively less amount, etc… Due to these ill effects of chemo, the person loses fair amount of weight, weakening of muscle and strength happens and eventually the body becomes fragile and lean.
4. Cognitive Changes or Cognitive Dysfunction:
After chemotherapy, cancer patients have trouble in clear thinking and in maintaining concentration. The people who have survived cancer call it a chemo brain syndrome while the doctors call it Cognitive Changes or Cognitive Dysfunction.
5. Effect on Nervous System:
There can be nerve damage due to some of the drugs used in chemotherapy. The symptoms can be like tingling, burning, weakness, sore muscles, stiff neck, headache, normal seeing, walking or hearing problems, etc. These symptoms can be temporary or permanent. If temporary, it will get better gradually by lowering chemotherapy or at the end. But if it lasts long, medical consultation is a must to treat these effects.
6. Blood Disorders:
Bone marrow creates new blood cells which is highly affected by chemotherapy which leads to decrease in number of Red Blood Cells (RBCs), White Blood Cells (WBCs) and Platelets. Low in RBC and WBC count leads to fatigue, chest pain, infections, etc. Lower platelets causes bleeding and bruising.
The irregular and difficult bowel movement is constipation. Some other medications like medications for pain can also cause constipation. To reduce this one should consume more amount of fluids, balanced meal and regular and proper exercise.
8. Aches &Pains:
The types of pains caused by chemotherapy are headaches, muscle pain, stomach ache, pain due to nerve damage and can exhibit by showing symptoms numbness, shooting pain in fingers and toes, etc… This is known as peripheral neuropathy.
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9. Radiation Recall:
This side effect is rare which occurs during chemotherapy or after radiation therapy. It is a rash that looks like some sort of sunburn. The symptoms are redness, peeling skin, soreness and it tends to spread around the affected area. A visit to the dermatologist is advised to avoid further skin damage.
10. Nausea and Vomiting:
This can happen depending on kind of drugs used during the process of chemotherapy. To limit nausea and vomiting the person is provided with medications before and after the chemotherapy dose.
As it is already known that some of the side effects can be temporary or permanent. Ask the doctor which ones to expect according to the situation and what can be done, also notify them of any unusual symptom, as they have different ways to prevent or treat chemotherapy side effects.