Side Effects of Chemotherapy Drugs

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 09, 2012

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Side Effects of Chemotherapy Drugs

The side effects of chemotherapy drugs are many and they affect a patient based on his general health and condition of the disease. As the various drugs work differently, the ways in which they affect an individual are different. Chemotherapy drugs and their side effects are taken into consideration whenever the cancer treatment is given. The side effects need to be managed with specialised medical care.


You may also like to read : How is Chemotherapy Given?


Chemo drug side effects


Some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs are:


  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • mouth ulcers and infections
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • hair loss
  • skin or nail changes or reactions
  • anxiety or depression
  • menopausal symptoms
  • sexual difficulties
  • swelling in the arms and legs
  • nerve and muscle problems.




Feeling extremely tired is a common side effect of chemotherapy and it can last for six months after treatment. Anaemia caused by chemotherapy can also lead to fatigue.


Nausea and vomiting


Common side effects of chemo treatment, nausea and vomiting can be treated by drugs called anti-emetics. This side effect is less common in patients who have been treated with texanes.


Hair loss


Some chemotherapy drugs do cause hair loss but not all. The most likely chemo drug to cause hair loss is the one used for treating breast cancer.


Diarrhoea and constipation


Some women experience diarrhoea and constipation after chemotherapy. It can be due to anti-emetic drugs. Women who do not remain active or eat very little during chemotherapy treatment are likely to suffer from these side effects.


You may also like to read : Importance of Eating Well During Chemotherapy


Weight loss or weight gain


Some women are inclined to lose weight while others may gain weight during treatment. Eating well and being active during chemotherapy can help in dealing with these problems.

Mouth ulcers and infections


Mouth ulcers can occur five to ten days after commencing the chemotherapy treatment and can last up to two weeks. Cold sores and thrush are also possible after chemotherapy treatment.



Close to two-third of women aged less than 50 would have menopause if their breast cancer is diagnosed. Younger women with the same diagnosis experience temporary menopause. After chemotherapy treatment, the closer a woman is to the age of natural menopause, the more likely she is to have permanent menopause.


You may also like to read : Procedure of Chemotherapy


The side effects of chemotherapy drugs can be many but there are always specific medical treatment procedures for their cure. In fact when deciding upon the chemotherapy drugs, the doctors always try to evaluate the magnitude of side effects and prepare for the required treatment right away.



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