Chemotherapy – is a very effective method of cancer treatment, because the chemotherapy drugs influence on rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, except for the cancer cells, there are other healthy cells which are also characterized by rapid growth and division. The following healthy cells can be damaged with chemotherapy side effects: blood cells and the cells of hematopoietic system, cells of mouth mucosa and cells of digestive tract, nose cells, vagina cells, as well as the cells of hair follicles and nails.
These healthy cells have the advantage in comparison with cancer cells – they can be restored. Therefore, the hair will grow again and energy will return to the body after the end of the chemotherapy.
In addition, you can help yourself to cope with side-effects of chemotherapy taking drugs to maintain your body during the course of treatment. Many of the side effects of chemotherapy disappear quite quickly, but some effects may last for months or even for several years.
Chemotherapy side effects are undesirable and negative impacts which can differ in accordance with this type of cancer treatment. Among the most common ones are: fatigue, nausea, vomiting, changes of blood composition, hair loss, sores in the mouth, and strong pain in the body.
The side effects of chemotherapy can be manifested in different ways. They may absent at all in some cases. At the same time the patient may experience several slightly expressed adverse reactions. The strength and diversity of chemotherapy side effects depends on the type of medicines, their dosage and the particular patient’s characteristics.
Three categories of Chemotherapy Side effects
Direct effects arise immediately or within one day after treatment. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. The appearance of fever, severe weakness, and loss of appetite is also possible.
- Nearest side effects occur for 7-10 days after treatment and are expressed in a sharp deterioration of blood composition, in violation of liver and kidneys functioning, in inflammatory reactions in the mouth and intestinal tract.
- Deferred side effects are manifested in hair loss, disorders of the cardiovascular system, and decrease of the body protective reaction.
Nausea during chemotherapy can be reduced with help of special drugs. If the drugs don’t have an effect anymore and vomiting started after chemotherapy, you must tell about it your doctor. It’s recommended not to eat at least for one hour after chemotherapy. It’s necessary to take medicine for nausea even in the days when the chemotherapy is not performed.
Hair loss begins after a few weeks after the treatment. Some of the chemotherapy drugs don’t cause hair loss at all, while others only weaken the hair and make them thin. You should not worry too much about hair loss: they will grow back after the end of chemotherapy.
Weakness and increased fatigue – are side effects of chemotherapy, which occur more often. They may be caused by anemia, depression, insomnia, and pains. The patient is recommended to refuse to work and do only the necessary things in the days of chemotherapy.
If symptoms of anemia take place – you should inform your doctor. The number of red blood cells may decrease while chemotherapy. The tissues and organs do not receive enough oxygen because the body gets oxygen from red blood cells. As a result, the patient has shortness of breath, fatigue and constant weakness, dizziness, and tachycardia.
Some types of chemotherapy can cause constipation. You should consume about two liters of fluids per day and foods rich in fiber: fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, nuts and seeds to prevent constipation.
Edemas can occur in certain types of cancerous tumors and under action of hormonal changes. The symptoms of edema include the rapid increase of body mass and decreased urination. Edema can lead to shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Sometimes it’s enough to reduce salt intake for disappearance of edemas. In other cases, you need to take diuretic medications.
The temperature can raise rapidly because of allergic reactions to the drug after chemotherapy. Therefore, small doses are introduced for determining sensitivity to these medicines before starting chemotherapy.
Chemotherapeutic drugs have a negative effect on reproductive cells. Therefore, it’s important to use reliable contraception to prevent pregnancy during chemotherapy. Men, who undergo chemotherapy, should necessarily use condoms, because the medicine may present in the semen. Women’s monthly cycle may disappear or change during chemotherapy.
Stomatitis occurs at 7-10 day after chemotherapy: there is a feeling of dryness and burning in the mouth, sores appear. You need to carefully take care of the oral cavity to prevent the stomatitis during chemotherapy: brush your teeth after each meal with a soft toothbrush. When stomatitis occurs, you have to give up the foods that can irritate the mucous of the mouth. Also, it’s better to quit smoking.
Loss of appetite – is one of the most common side-effects of chemotherapy. It’s very important for the patient to have a balanced caloric nutrition during the cancer treatment. Therefore, it’s necessary to consume a sufficient amount of food and liquids even if there is no appetite, so that the body has enough energy for vital functions.
You can find out with your doctor (before starting the course) what chemotherapy side effects you can have during the course of treatment, how long they will remain and whether they can be reduced. The absence or weak expression of side-effects of chemotherapy doesn’t indicate a lack of treatment effect. Your body is particular, and, in addition, different medicines have different effects.
The side effects of chemotherapy are still better than cancer
The reaction of the body on chemistry will pass with time, and you will recover. The nausea can be combated with taking special medicine, the hair grow back again, and what is the most important thing – the oncology will be defeated. And this is the main goal of chemotherapy treatment. Do not be afraid of temporary difficulties and don’t retreat from this main goal. Nowadays, doctors have learned to avoid many side effects or significantly or reduce their frequency and extent of manifestation. Special medicines and modes of chemotherapy injection were developed for this. You must clearly understand that the unpleasant chemotherapy side effects are justified, taking into account the ability of treatment to destroy the cancer cells.