What Are Typical Chemotherapy Side Effects?


Quick Answer

The common side effects of chemotherapy include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, throat sores diarrhea, constipation and blood disorders, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Chemotherapy can also cause various pains throughout the body, such as in the head, stomach, muscles, nerves and extremities.

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What Are Typical Chemotherapy Side Effects?
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Full Answer

The side effects of chemotherapy vary based on the specific drugs used, as explained by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Nerve damage and other side effects that manifest in the nervous system lead to loss of balance, difficulty walking, hearing impairment, trembling, vision problems and general clumsiness. A symptom known as "chemo brain" refers to cognitive difficulties that result from changes in thinking and memory. Chemotherapy patients may experience a loss of appetite, leading to further problems of weight loss, a reduction of muscle mass and malnutrition. Chemotherapy patients may also experience hair loss, and the side effects of chemotherapy may also damage the reproductive system.

While many symptoms of chemotherapy only occur during treatment, certain side effects persist, including organ damage to the reproductive system, heart, lungs, kidneys and liver, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Some of the cognitive difficulties that develop during treatment may persist for months or years after the conclusion of treatment. The same changes to the nervous system that can occur during treatment may also reappear or occur for the first time later, particularly in children.

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