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Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment but causes these common side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Pain from nerve damage
  • Mouth and throat sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Blood disorders
  • Nervous system effects
  • Thinking, memory problems
  • Sexual and reproductive issues
  • Appetite loss
  • Hair loss
  • Heart or kidney problems
  • Infection risks

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Chemotherapy is used to treat a lot of cancers. It often is given in combination with other cancer therapies. Chemotherapy is an effective and important part of total cancer care. Each patient is different, so chemotherapy treatment is tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy drugs are used to prevent rapid growth and division of cancer cells. Cancer cells generally grow and divide faster than healthy cells, so chemotherapy destroys cancer cells more quickly than it destroys most healthy cells. Chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the body and kill cancer cells wherever they are located, and is a very effective treatment for many types of cancer, such as breast cancer and lymphoma.

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Chemotherapy Types

Also called IV therapy, intravenous chemo often is through a catheter tube in a vein. Some patients are given an IV infusion device, which stay in longer than an IV catheter.
Given as a shot, usually in a muscle, the fatty part of an arm or leg, or the belly.
 Using a thin catheter, chemotherapy directly targets a tumor while sparing healthy tissue.
Chemotherapy is delivered directly into the peritoneum (tissue lining the stomach cavity and surrounding abdominal organs). It targets cancers directly.
Drugs may be taken in pill, capsule or liquid form.
Cream rubbed on the skin.