Chemotherapy And Its Side Effects



Chemotherapy has long been recognized for the many benefits of fighting cancer, but for many- it is just as well known for the unpleasant issues it can cause. Though the drawbacks and side effects are temporary, they can be distressing and painful to go through. It can be especially troublesome if your cancer has returned- and your medical professional has advised another round of chemotherapy as treatment. It is good to know that there are ways in which the side effects can be managed and minimized to make the process a bit more bearable. Let’s break down the process of chemotherapy, its side effects, and methods for mitigating the awful side effects.


What Is Chemotherapy?

In simple terms, chemotherapy is an aggressive treatment to treat diseases such as cancer. It involves a chemical drug therapy that is aimed at destroying cancer cells in the body. It slows down the rapid and abnormal growth of cancer cells and kills any existing cancer cells. This helps cure cancer and reduces symptoms and risks that may shorten one’s life span.

Chemotherapy- or Chemo for short- is administered as per the recommendation of an oncologist and is given to the patient intravenously. Sometimes the drug may be given in pills or capsule form as well. Chemo is thought to be effective in treating cancer because it can be delivered to all parts of the body through the bloodstream, and can detect and kill cancer cells that may have spread undetected throughout the body.


The Side Effects

Here’s a list of common side effects that come along with this treatment procedure:

1. Fall in blood cell counts

This happens to both red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body and white blood cells that fight infections.

2. Nausea and vomiting

This is a common side effect that occurs because chemotherapy irritates the gastrointestinal tract.

3. Hair loss

This happens as hair follicles have cells that regenerate rapidly and this is exactly what chemotherapy seeks to slow down and destroy. Thus hair may fall to the extent of making the patient bald.

4. Mouth sores and infections

This is also accompanied with a dry throat, changes in sense of smell and taste along with increased sensitivity in teeth and gums.

5. Pain all over the body

This extends to body aches, bone aches, and stomach aches as well. During chemotherapy, burning and numbing sensations are also experienced throughout the body.

Recent Advances In

Minimizing The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy

With advancements in cancer research, there have been updated methods and practices for chemo patients that have worked well at reducing some of the side effects, they are as follows:

- Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables that are washed thoroughly before consumption. Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet as well.
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep. Take short naps during the day if needed.
- Wash hands often and carry a sanitizer to prevent contracting any virus or bacterial infection.
- Take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Protect your scalp by keeping it covered and avoid harsh chemicals such as dyes.
- Visit your dentist frequently to prevent mouth sores and sensitive gums from developing.
- Increase your intake of water. Make sure you stay well hydrated.
- Take your pain medications as scheduled to avoid flare-ups.


The Bottom Line

Cancer of any type can be stressful and anxiety-inducing to say the least. The entire treatment process can be overwhelming and frightening. Patients (and their caregivers) need to be aware of the side effects. Being proactive can help you stay mentally prepared for the battle ahead. You can follow the steps given here to manage chemotherapy side effects. Following the guidance of your medical team and these suggestion, can make it less difficult for you to conduct your daily tasks. Remember, the aftereffects will only last for a short while. Once you’re cancer-free, you can go back to living your life to the fullest. So don’t give up and don’t lose hope!

Disclaimer: Please note: this blog post is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to replace the guidance of your personal physician. Please consult a medical professional if you have any concerns after reading this or other blog posts on this website.