Bruising, bleeding, infections, and
anemia. In general, chemotherapy affects rapidly
growing and dividing cells. These include blood cells, which fight infection,
cause the blood to clot, and carry oxygen to all parts of the body. When blood
cells are affected by chemotherapy, you are more likely to get infections,
bruise or bleed easily, and have less energy during and after
Nausea and vomiting. The drugs that are used to treat
cancer can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Your oncologist may prescribe
antinausea medicines to help with these symptoms, and
you can try
home treatment measures. Also, watch for early signs of
dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sticky saliva, and
reduced urine output with dark yellow urine. Contact your doctor if your
medicines do not control your nausea and vomiting or you have signs of
Changes in mental awareness. Some women have changes
in their ability to think, learn, reason, and remember (cognitive function)
during the first months or years after some types of chemotherapy. These
changes return to normal over time.
Urinary and sexual problems.
Treatment with chemotherapy may cause vaginal dryness or leakage of urine. Some
women may have a decreased desire for sex. Although most women report mild
changes in their physical and emotional well-being, some women may continue to
have quality-of-life issues for many years after treatment.
Hair loss. Some drugs cause more hair loss than others. Hair does
grow back after treatment ends.
Mouth sores and loss of appetite. A
few drugs may be more likely to cause mouth sores than others. Many drugs cause
a loss of appetite.
Many of these side effects can be helped. Side effects generally are
short-term problems. They gradually go away during the recovery part of the
chemotherapy cycle or after the treatment is over. With modern chemotherapy,
long-term side effects, although possible, are less common than in the
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.