Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medicines that can cause side effects. Some of these side effects are discussed below in other sections, but if you're looking for information on the side effects most commonly caused by chemotherapy, this is a good place to start.
Physical Side Effects
In this section you'll find information about the physical side effects that can be caused by different cancer treatments.
Radiation therapy can cause side effects by damaging normal, healthy cells near the cancer. Some of the side effects of radiation therapy are discussed below in other sections. But if you're looking for information on the most common side effects from radiation therapy, start here.
Pain can be caused by cancer itself or by certain treatments, such as surgery. Go here to learn more about cancer-related pain and how it can be managed and treated.
Nausea and vomiting are among the most feared side effects of cancer treatment. While many people treated for cancer have bouts of nausea and vomiting, there are medicines that work well to control these side effects. Find out more about preventing and treating nausea and vomiting here.
Fatigue is one of the most common and distressing side effects of cancer and its treatment. Fatigue from cancer treatment is often more intense than the feelings of being tired we all have from time to time. Learn about cancer-related fatigue and how to manage it here.
Anemia is having a lower than normal number of red blood cells in your blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Not having enough of them can result in feeling weak, tired, or short of breath. Find out more about cancer-related anemia and what can be done about it here.
Lymphedema is a build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin. This build-up causes swelling (or edema), most often in the arms or legs. Lymphedema can result from surgery or radiation therapy to treat certain cancers. Go here to learn more about lymphedema.
Women and their doctors may not talk about the effects of cancer treatment on their sex lives or their ability to have children. Some women may feel uneasy talking about these issues with a professional like a doctor or even with a close sex partner. In this section, we answer questions and offer information about cancer, fertility, sex, and sexuality to help you have open, honest talks about your sex life.
Men and their doctors often do not talk about the effects of cancer treatment on their sex lives or their ability to have children. Men may feel uneasy talking about these issues with a professional like a doctor or even with a close sex partner. In this section, we answer questions and offer information about cancer, fertility, sex, and sexuality to help you have open, honest talks about your sex life.
When you lose control of your urine or have leaking or dribbling, it’s called urinary incontinence. A lot of men have incontinence after cancer treatment, but here are ways to help. Learn more here.
This guide offers general information about caring for a person with cancer at home. It lists the more common problems people with cancer experience, signs of problems you can look for, and some ideas for things you can do if problems come up.
An ostomy (or stoma) is a surgical opening made in the skin as a way for waste products to leave the body. An ostomy can allow wastes to leave from the intestines (ileostomy or colostomy) or from the bladder (urostomy). The guides in this section explain the different types of ostomies, why they might be needed, and how they might affect a person's life.
These worksheets (in PDF format) can help you keep track of your side effects and medications so that you can better communicate with your health care team about them.
For a quick, easy way to learn important facts and practical tips about cancer and related issues, participate in our interactive online program, I Can Cope—Online. There is never any charge to participate, and you set the pace—whenever and wherever is most convenient for you. This class focuses on managing the effects of illness and treatment.