Side effects of chemotherapy drugs can be significant. Each drug has different side effects, and not every drug causes every side effect. Ask your doctor about the side effects of the particular drugs you'll receive.
Side effects that occur during chemotherapy treatment
Common side effects of chemotherapy drugs include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores
- Easy bruising
Many of these side effects can be prevented or treated. Most side effects subside after treatment ends.
Long-lasting and late-developing side effects
Chemotherapy drugs can also cause side effects that don't become evident until months or years after treatment. Late side effects vary depending on the chemotherapy drug but can include:
- Damage to lung tissue
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
- Risk of a second cancer
Ask your doctor if you have a risk of any late side effects. Ask what signs and symptoms you should be alert for that may signal a problem.
April 27, 2017
- Chemotherapy and you: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/chemo-and-you. Accessed Feb. 2, 2017.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Cancer pharmacology. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 2, 2017.
- What to expect when having chemotherapy. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/chemotherapy/what-expect-when-having-chemotherapy. Accessed Feb. 2, 2017.
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Treatments/Cyclophosphamide-Cytoxan. Accessed Feb. 2, 2017.
- Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 6, 2016.