Skin and hair symptoms

Chemotherapy targets rapidly growing cells, including healthy cells in your hair and inside your mouth.

  • Hair loss. This happens most often on the scalp but your eyebrows and eyelashes may thin, too. Fortunately, hair loss is almost always temporary.
  • Mouth sores. Damage to the cells in your mouth can create sores that make it difficult to eat and drink.

Whole-body effects

Chemotherapy drugs go through your bloodstream and can affect your whole body. That can cause symptoms such as fatigue. Feeling tired or having little energy is a common side effect of many types of chemotherapy.

Work with your health care team

Consider preparing a list of questions about side effects to ask your health care team so that you can get ready for chemotherapy.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What side effects are most common with the drugs I'm receiving?
  • How do these compare with the side effects of other treatments?
  • What can I do to prepare for these side effects?
  • What can I do to decrease the chances that I'll have them?
  • What side effects are dangerous and should prompt a call or visit to the clinic?
  • May I call you anytime if I have these side effects? What phone number should I use?

After you start treatment, it's important to tell your health care team about all the side effects you experience. The earlier they know, the more likely they can prevent side effects from becoming more-serious problems.

Aug. 29, 2014 See more In-depth