Chemotherapy Side Effects
Every cancer is unique as is every person.
Some people say that chemotherapy was much easier than expected and experience few problems. Others may experience side-effects ranging from mild to severe. It’s important to discuss any side-effects you experience with your nurse and doctor as medications are available to alleviate many of them.
The most common side-effects are described below, but others may occur.
If you are at all concerned, you should seek medical advice immediately.
Fatigue or tiredness is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Almost everyone who has chemotherapy will experience fatigue. You may feel generally tired or you may tire very easily after doing normal tasks.
While having chemotherapy, it's important to get adequate rest. Don't carry out tasks or activities that you don't feel up to and allow extra time to do things.
Exercise as Cancer Medicine
Exercise can actually boost your energy levels and have a positive impact on recovery. Patients attending Shenton House are able to participate in an on-site and individually tailored exercise program under the supervision of qualified cancer exercise physiologists. Directed by the world renowned ECU Health and Wellness Institute, the program has been scientifically proven to reduce fatigue and treatment toxicity, improve quality of life, reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and maximise long-term health.1,2,3,4
1. Newton, R., Galvão, D. Exercise in prevention and management of cancer. Curr Treat Options Oncol 2008:9:135-146.
2. Newton, R., Galvão,D. Exercise medicine for prostate cancer. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act 2013:10:41-45.
3. Cormie, P. et al. Can supervised exercise prevent treatment toxicity in patients with prostate cancer initiating androgen-deprivation therapy: a randomised controlled trial. BJU Int. 2015; 115(2):256-266.
4. Galvão, D. Taaffe, D. Spry, N., et al. Combined resistance and aerobic exercise program reverses muscle loss in men undergoing androgen suppression therapy for prostate cancer without bone metastases: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 2010; 28(2): 340-347.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are possible side effects of chemotherapy but newer medications are generally very effective at controlling nausea and vomiting. To avoid this side-effect, you will be given preventative medication or it may be prescribed for you to take home and use as required.
Hair loss is a common side effect of some types of chemotherapy, but not all. It usually begins within a couple of weeks after the first chemotherapy dose. Hair loss is generally temporary, and your hair should begin to grow back soon after treatment has finished. Many people find that the hair that grows back is different than before – there may be a change of colour or it might be curlier, straighter or denser than it used to be.
If your prescribed treatment has the potential to cause hair loss, your nurse can assist or recommend available support services. Some people choose to wear a wig or head covering, for example.
Your nurse will also provide you with information on other potential side effects specific to the treatment you have been prescribed.