All cancer treatments and other medicines that may be needed alongside therapy can cause side effects. Side effects from cancer treatment can range from being mild to uncomfortable. Some side effects can occur immediately, some in the days after treatment and some weeks, months or even years after treatment. All treatments for cancer have risks or side effects. Patients may experience one, some or none of these side effects.
The healthcare team should educate all patients about what side effects can happen with the treatment that is being given. Patients should be provided with this information prior to and during the treatment cycle. Some side effects can be serious and these should also be explained to the patient and what steps to take if this does happen should also be discussed. In most cases the patient may need to go to the emergency department of the hospital if it is a serious side effect.
The good news is that many of the common side effects can be minimised or not happen at all when the patient receives other medications to help with the side effect. Therefore, it is always very important to mention any side effects that are happening to the nurse or healthcare team.
Some of the main side effects can include:
- Sore mouth (Mucositis)
- Bowel problems-diarrhoea or constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in taste
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Anaemia (decreased red blood cells)
- Neutropenia (decreased white blood cells)
- Thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets)
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Chemo brain
- Sleep issues
- Risk of Infection