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How Will Chemo Affect Me

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How Will Chemo Affect Me – Medically Reviewed by Faith Selchick, DNP, AOCNP, Nurse Practitioner, Oncology — Ann Pietrangelo — Updated May 23, 2023

After receiving a cancer diagnosis, your first response may be to ask your doctor about chemotherapy, also known as chemotherapy.

How Will Chemo Affect Me

After all, chemotherapy is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment. But chemotherapy does more than cure cancer.

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While chemotherapy drugs are powerful enough to kill fast-growing cancer cells, they can damage healthy cells. This can cause various side effects. The seriousness of these side effects depends on:

Most side effects go away soon after treatment ends, but some may last for months, years, or never go away.

It is important to discuss any side effects you experience with your doctor. In some cases, depending on how your body responds, your doctor may need to adjust the type or dose of chemotherapy.

Regular monitoring of blood counts is an important part of chemotherapy. Medicines can cause loss of red blood cells, leading to anemia.

Essentials For Chemotherapy Comfort

Chemotherapy can cause neutropenia, a condition in which you have a low number of white blood cells. White blood cells play an important role in the immune system and help fight disease. It is important to take steps to prevent exposure to viruses and bacteria if you are receiving chemotherapy.

A low platelet count, called thrombocytopenia, can also occur with chemotherapy. Cells called platelets help the blood to clot. Their small number means you will bruise and bleed easily. Symptoms may include:

Some chemo drugs can damage the heart, which can lead to cardiomyopathy, or heart disease. It can disrupt your heart rhythm, a condition called arrhythmia. These conditions can affect your heart’s ability to pump blood properly.

These problems are unlikely if your heart is strong and healthy when you start chemotherapy.

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The central nervous system controls emotions, thought patterns and coordination. Chemotherapy drugs can cause memory problems or make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. Sometimes called “chemo brain.”

Chemo drugs can also cause a number of other problems in your nervous system where the nerves are damaged. Symptoms may include:

Instability and balance difficulties increase the risk of falling. Working with a therapist or physical therapist can help you improve your motor skills and coordination.

Taking frequent or large doses of chemotherapy drugs increases the likelihood of pain and discomfort in the mouth or throat. Some types of chemotherapy affect your line more than others. You can find:

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If you have an eating disorder or if treatment causes your eating to be unusual or unpleasant, this can lead to unintentional weight loss.

Nausea is another common symptom of chemotherapy that can cause vomiting, leading to dehydration and reduced appetite. Talk to your doctor about anti-nausea medications to reduce vomiting during treatment.

Even if you don’t feel hungry, it’s important to always eat healthy food. It may help to try foods that are soft and easy to swallow.

Eating small, frequent, high-calorie snacks instead of large meals is a good way to increase your calorie intake. It can reduce weight loss.

Common Chemotherapy Side Effects, Plus How To Ease Them

Hair loss is perhaps the most well-known side effect of chemotherapy. Many chemotherapy drugs affect the hair follicles and can cause hair loss, called alopecia, within days or weeks of the first treatment.

Hair loss can occur anywhere on your body, but it is most likely to occur on the scalp. New hair growth usually begins a few weeks after the last treatment.

You may be sensitive to the sun and burn easily. You can help protect your skin when you’re outdoors by wearing sunscreen, long sleeves, and a hat.

Additionally, your nails and toes may turn yellow and become brittle. In severe cases, they may separate from the nail bed. Wetting the cuticles and trimming the nails short can help.

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Chemotherapy drugs change hormones in both men and women. In women, chemotherapy can affect the ovaries, which can cause:

In men, some chemo drugs can damage sperm or reduce sperm count. Like women, men can experience temporary or permanent infertility from chemotherapy.

Doctors advise not to get pregnant during chemotherapy. Prescription drugs can damage sperm and can harm an unborn baby if given during pregnancy, which can lead to birth defects.

If you are already pregnant when you are diagnosed with cancer, you still have options. You and your doctor will discuss the best next steps. Treatment may include surgery instead of chemotherapy or different treatment times.

Immunostimulation With Chemotherapy In The Era Of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Although symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety can disrupt the sex drive in men and women, many people on chemotherapy can have an active sex life.

The kidneys work to excrete chemotherapy drugs as they travel through your body. In this process, some kidney and bladder cells can become irritated or damaged.

Some chemo drugs can cause your urine to turn red or orange for a few days. You may experience bladder irritation, which causes burning sensation when urinating and increased urination.

Your doctor will advise you to drink plenty of water to keep your system working properly.

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It is normal to lose bone mass with age, but some chemo drugs can increase this loss. In women, chemotherapy can damage the ovaries, so they stop producing estrogen. Low estrogen levels lead to bone loss.

According to the National Institutes of Health, women who are treated for breast cancer have an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. The most common parts of the body where breaks occur are:

Living with cancer and dealing with chemotherapy can affect your mental health. It is normal to feel a range of emotions, such as:

Talking to friends and family can help you deal with your feelings. Your health care team may recommend a local cancer support group where you can talk to other cancer survivors.

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If feelings of depression persist, seek professional advice or talk to your doctor. Although emotional side effects are common, there are ways to reduce them and improve your quality of life.

Some chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk of developing another cancer. This is more likely if you receive high doses of chemotherapy for a long time.

Side effects are different for each person, so it is difficult to predict how chemotherapy will affect you. However, you can ask your doctor:

Once you are aware of the side effects you may experience, you can prepare for them by planning vacations, rest, or seeking help with stress-reducing responsibilities such as childcare after chemotherapy.

How Long Does Chemotherapy Stay In The Body And What Are Long Term Effects?

Has strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research centers and medical societies. We avoid using references to higher education. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date by reading our editorial policy.

Our experts are constantly monitoring the health and wellness area, and we update our articles as new information becomes available. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer. It uses drugs to destroy cancer cells and prevent tumor growth. It may be combined with other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or surgery. Chemotherapy is usually given intravenously (through a vein). It is an effective treatment, but it can cause side effects.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment. Also called “chemotherapy,” it is one of many cancer treatments that use drugs against different types of cancer. Other drug treatments include:

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Your oncologist will check if you are healthy enough for treatment. In the meantime, you can take steps to prepare for chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is often systemic, meaning that the chemotherapy drug travels throughout your body. You may receive systemic chemotherapy:

Some cancers do not respond well to systemic chemotherapy. In some cases, you may need chemotherapy delivered to a specific area of ​​your body. Examples include:

The most common way to administer chemotherapy is intravenously, through an IV. Chemotherapy can be given directly into a vein by:

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Catheters and ports are useful if you need multiple rounds of chemotherapy. They avoid the need to always stick a needle in your hand. Your oncologist may use catheters and ports to deliver other medications. This may include antibiotics or anticonvulsants (medicines to prevent nausea and vomiting).

The length of chemotherapy depends on the type of chemotherapy you receive. Treatment can last from a few minutes to several hours. Some people need a continuous infusion, which can last several days. Continued alcoholism can be started in a hospital or an alcoholism center and continued at home.

Most people need multiple rounds of chemotherapy. A chemotherapy cycle may involve treatment for several days or weeks, followed by a period without chemotherapy. This rest period gives your body time to recover from the treatment. After that, you can get another round of chemotherapy in the same way.

Chemotherapy treatments are usually outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home the same day. You can get treatment:

Chemotherapy In Children

Chemotherapy drugs target all rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. This means that chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells, but they can damage other cells in your body

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