Common immediate aftereffects of chemotherapy treatment include fatigue, hair loss, decreased appetite and nausea and mouth sores, according to WebMD. Long-term side effects are rare, but chemotherapy has been known to cause heart damage and second cancers such as leukemia as of 2015.
The effects of chemotherapy vary from person to person, and different types of chemotherapy can cause different side effects, notes WebMD. Side effects are usually short-term, and doctors can control many, such as nausea and vomiting, with medications.
Because chemotherapy affects blood cells, it is common for people undergoing chemotherapy treatment to bruise or bleed easily, according to WebMD. Chemotherapy may also make people more susceptible to infections. During chemotherapy treatment, some people may feel mildly tired, while others may be completely exhausted. This fatigue usually subsides over time.
Because chemotherapy can damage the nervous system, some people may feel numb or tingly in the hands or feet, states WebMD. Chemotherapy can also cause trembling or shaking. These nervous system problems usually subside over time. Some people notice a decline in cognitive function after chemotherapy treatment, and this can take a few years to fully go away.
Women may experience symptoms similar to menopause following chemotherapy, notes WebMD. Common symptoms include irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and an inability to get pregnant. Infertility is usually permanent for women over the age of 35, and some chemotherapy medicines may cause birth defects.