What are the General Effects of Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatments

Anti-cancer medicines are manufactured to prevent the growth of cancerous cells and multiply healthy cells, instead. Like other drugs, there are side effects caused by the damaging of some normal or healthy cells. They can affect the cells in digestive system, the nervous system and the reproductive system, hair follicles, vital or sexual organs, and formation of blood cells in the bone marrows.


Side effects may start early or a little bit later. They also happen for a short period of time, or for a much longer duration. It all depends on the kind of chemotherapy a patient has to take, as well as the overall well being of the person.

There is nothing to fear when taking anti-cancer treatments, including chemotherapy. You have to ask your physician some ways on how to deal with those effects. Some can be effective in reducing the effects, and ultimately, make you feel less worried.

Furthermore, this information is to mainly give you an idea of what to expect so you won’t be surprised and panicking when you experience such effects. In fact, before undergoing such treatment, the doctor is going to discuss and explain to you those side effects. You will be given a consent form to sign in before the chemotherapy starts. These are all necessary and a part of the treatment process.

Hair Loss

The loss of hair is a very common effect of chemotherapy. The hair follicle is greatly affected when a patient is undergoing anti-cancer treatment. This condition should not be something that makes you feel embarrassed or sorry for yourself. A lot of healthy people (those without cancers) support cancer patients and raise awareness by shaving their hair off.


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All throughout the treatment, a cancer patient experiences fatigue most of the time. If you are fortunate, you may only have this effect for a short time. Regardless, it is necessary to let your doctor know that you are having this kind of issue.

Nausea & Vomiting

Of course, expect to have nausea and vomiting also. This is a common side effect of many treatment drugs. Likewise, it is just easy to deal with, and not something to think about.

Pain – Nerve and Muscle Effects

There are also side effects to your nerves and muscles. You will feel some pain and aches in those areas, which may need you to take drugs for relief.

Blood Clotting and Anemia

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Problems related to blood are also possible effects of chemotherapy. There is a tendency to clot blood. Anemia, which is the condition in which there are insufficient healthy red blood cells. Remember that red blood cells function in providing oxygen to tissues.


One or more infections can occur in the body when a patient is undergoing chemotherapy. Infections can affect the mouth, from the gums to throat. Antibiotic and anti-bacteria drugs are usually prescribed to treat such infection.

Flu-Like Symptoms

Constant dizziness, mild to severe fever and chills are also common problems during cancer treatments. Again, this is not difficult to deal with as medicines to cure the condition are always available.

Diarrhea and Constipation

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Bowel movement problems are another thing. You get to go in and out of the bathroom a few times, while you are in the process of chemotherapy.

Cardiac Effects

Damage to the heart muscle or signs of weakening is a general effect during the early stages of treatment. Yet, it is also possible to have cardiac experience at later time of chemotherapy. You will have this condition when your breathing becomes short or difficult, experience fatigue, and have swollen ankles and feet.

Lung and Liver Effects

Lung scarring and liver damage are other effects of chemotherapy. You experience lung effect more if radiation therapy to the chest is combined with the chemo. If you haven’t been a chain smoker or an alcoholic person prior your cancer diagnoses and during treatment, there is a high chance for your liver to regenerate.

Kidney and Bladder Effects

Some medications providing for the chemotherapy have effects to the bladder and kidneys. Bladder damage is either permanent or just temporary. You know these areas are affected if you experience kidney problem, including pain, as well as if you have blood in your urine.

Effect on the Eyes

Cancer treatment like chemotherapy may also lead to the development of cataracts. This is more possible if the patient is given steroids.

Hearing Loss

The ability to hear is gradually decreased when taking certain anti-cancer drugs. You may also experience some ringing in your ears, which is referred to as tinnitus.


In women, especially the younger ages, infertility is a side effect of chemotherapy. This condition usually happens after the treatment.

Other effects of undergoing treatment against cancers are fluid retention, radiation recall, and problems on skin, nails, sexual or vital organs and sexual drive.

Again, you must not be thinking of these effects when you need to deal with chemotherapy and other anti-cancer treatments. The most important to keep in mind is that this process is to help you generate more healthy cells, so you can fight the abnormal or cancerous cells, and eventually be free of cancer. As most people know, cancer is a serious and deadly health condition that has to be prevented. And the only way to cure or treat is to take the necessary treatments as highly suggested by doctors and proven for many years.

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