Chemotherapy is a powerful cancer treatment. It is powerful enough to kill fast-growing cancer cells. The catch is, they can also harm healthy cells. Therefore, there are possible side effects. These effects will depend on your health, age, and type of chemo. To help you understand it, here are some facts about chemo side effects.
1. It can Affect Skin and Hair
Perhaps the most common chemo side effect is hair loss. It can affect the hair cells and causes hair loss. Hence, it can happen within a few weeks of the first treatment. It may affect all hair in your body. But don’t worry, the hair can grow back. New hair growth may start weeks after the final treatment.
You can also experience different skin reactions. These may be dryness, rash, and itchiness. Call your doctor if it becomes too uncomfortable. They will recommend creams you can use to solve these skin problems. You may also become more sensitive to burns and the sun. That is why it is important to protect yourself outdoors. Include wearing sunscreen and long-sleeves as part of your chemo care.
2. It can Affect Thinking
You may experience difficulty in remembering things. Also, it is because of certain drugs. They cause problems with memory. One may experience a hard time concentrating and thinking clearly. Therefore, it is called “chemo fog.”
3. It can Affect Digestion
Expect sores during treatment. First, it may appear on your tongue, gums, lips, or in the throat. Hence, you may experience a hard time eating your food properly. Also, it can make you bleed and have an infection.
Common among patients is weight loss. However, it is because of drugs that bring a metallic taste to the mouth. Foods will then taste bad. Often, patients will not want to eat. You may also experience changes in your poop. Also, bloating and feeling pressure in your stomach are common. Therefore, drink plenty of water daily. Lastly, continue eating healthy foods.
4. It can Affect Sexual Organs
It can affect the hormones in the body. Also, it may result in an irregular period and immediate menopause in women. You may also experience dryness in your genitals. Therefore, it can cause sex to be painful and uncomfortable. Also, expect an increase in infections down there. It may also cause difficulty in getting pregnant. Doctors do not recommend treatment during pregnancy. Some medicine given may result in birth defects. For men, you may also develop infertility. The drug changes how the sperm look like and its count.
Patients with breast cancer go through adjuvant chemotherapy. Also, it is what doctors give after surgery for the treatment of cancer. It prevents the disease from happening again. Doctors recommend adjuvant chemotherapy for patients who have a serious case. It is especially true if it has already spread to other parts of the body.
5. It can Affect Kidneys
The kidney is the one that removes drugs from the body. By repeatedly doing so, it can cause cell damage. You may experience a decrease in peeing and swelling of the limbs. Pain while peeing is also common. Doctors will recommend drinking a lot of fluids. Additionally, it will flush the medicines out.
6. It can Affect Bones
It is common to decrease bone mass as we age. However, its chances are high with those who go through chemo. The drug used can cause a drop in calcium levels. Bone-related diseases are more common in women than in men. The drugs, in combination with the hormones, play a role in this. The most common affected areas are the spine, pelvis, hips, and wrists. Get enough nutrients for the bone and exercise regularly to prevent this.
7. It can Affect Mental Health
Having cancer and undergoing chemo is a difficult situation one can experience. You may feel scared and stressed. Issues about your appearance and health may also appear. Cancer patients have a high chance of depression. It can happen if they have a lot of things in mind. They may have trouble juggling several aspects of their life in addition to cancer.
There are ways to manage its effects. Relaxation techniques are effective. You can try massage. Yoga is also helpful for relief. Consult with your doctor if you have trouble coping. They may suggest a support group nearby. The group may help you communicate your feelings and experiences about chemo care. You may also look for counselors to help you process your experiences.