Chemotherapy side effect treatment

Chemotherapy side effect is one of the most known treatment modalities to treat cancer. It’s a treatment that requires immense use of powerful chemicals to block the spread of fast-growing infections and cancerous cells in the body. It’s one of the common forms of treating cancer, as there is much more rapid growth in cancer than any other disease, and it requires immediate actions to stop the widespread.

It could be given as intravenous (IV) drip (with DNS, NS, D5), intravenous injection, intramuscular, subcutaneous, or oral therapy.

Since the treatment requires a high dosage of drugs it may or may not involve several other types of side effects. The range of complications may differ which may fall on mild and moderate to serious as well.

Chemotherapy side effect treatment

Chemotherapy side effect treatment

Need of Chemotherapy-

Need of chemotherapy depends on various factors, which may involve-

  • To treat cancer without involving any other treatment– Chemotherapy with its high success rate could also be used as the only treatment for cancer.
  • To kill the hidden cancer cells-Chemotherapy can also be used as an adjuvant therapy where the hidden cancerous cells which remain after surgery could be killed.
  • To work with other treatments as well- It can also be used to shrink the tumor size, so that radiation or surgical procedures may work easily. It is termed as Neoadjuvant therapy as well.
  • For relieving signs and symptoms– One of the most important works of chemotherapy is relieving the present signs and symptoms, which is termed as palliative chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy may give several side effects as well-

Low Blood Count-

Chemotherapy can also prone body to get infections. This is because the anti-cancer drugs directly affect the bone marrow, which alters the production of WBC i.e. fighting cells. Oncologists check the levels of WBCs during the chemotherapy sessions. There are various medications available that rise the level of WBC. The medium through which infectious bacteria enter the human body is the skin, oral cavity, intestines, and genital tract.

Ways to prevent them are-

  • Hand washing often is the foremost important step before and after having any meal or using the washroom or touching any animal
  • Stay away from the diseased ones who can transmit the disease and are suffering from cough, cold, flu, or measles.
  • Don’t visit overcrowded places especially when you are with kids or old age people.
  • Don’t cut the cuticles of your nails
  • Be careful with electric shaver or razor.
  • Use lotion or ointment to heal the cracked or dry skin.

Low platelet count is also a result of Chemotherapy side effect. Unusual bleeding in urine, stool vomit, or gums could be a warning sign, visit any known oncophysician first.

Red Blood cells are also affected giving rise to an anemic body. Anemia is a condition when there are not enough RBCs produced in the body. It involves a tiring feeling, shortness of breath, Dizziness, and tachycardia. Visit your oncophysician in any of the conditions and get the prescribed treatment.

Fatigue (tiredness)

Feeling tired is the most common symptom complained by cancer patients. The reason is not known yet but could be due to various factors like the condition, chemotherapy, stress, pain, or irregular appetite. Not everyone experiences the same level of fatigue but can try out some points to cope with it-

  • A proper and prior scheduling of the day is important.
  • Take naps as per your body’s need, long rest is not always preferred.
  • Some easy exercise or light walk could be helpful
  • Save your energy as much as you can.
  • Have a conversation with your oncophysician regarding how to feel and ways to tackle them

Oral Care

Chemotherapy may affect the inner lining of the oral cavity hence regular and good oral care is important.

Note to involve your oncophysician if you are planning to visit any dentist because it may affect your chemotherapy.

Oral care at least 3 times a day after meals and at bedtime. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste. Don’t use dental floss if it pains or bleeds. Avoid using dentures if you have oral sores.

To minimize oral cavity irritation, one should-

  • Rinse mouth using warm salted water
  • Avoid hot and spicy food
  • Eat non-spicy, non-acidic, and easily chewable foods.

Nausea & Vomiting-

Chemotherapy may also aggravate nausea and vomiting. The severity may differ from person to person. One may receive anti-nausea medications to control this.

Having a light meal before chemotherapy treatment may help with nausea and vomiting. Try to take a nap or rest after the session.

Nausea is different from vomiting and may last longer. One can also try and avoid strong-smelling food such as onions, cabbage, etc, and have sips of fruit juice, etc. Continue drinking fluids to resolve the dehydration issue.


To treat loose stools, have a diet of easily cooked foods, soups, etc. Eating light and cool food instead of hot and spicy can also help. Drinking eight to ten glasses of liquids is best.

When the diarrhea is severe, it is advised to avoid dairy products. Take the medications as prescribed.

To control diarrhea lower the fiber in the diet. Food rich in high fiber is raw fruits and vegetables, bread, and whole grains which should be avoided throughout the treatment. If the diarrhea is more severe and has affected for more than 12-24 hours consult your physician.


Constipation is also a result of chemotherapy, pain, medications, or change in diet or routine activity. Constipation means low bowel movement and trouble in passing stool. It can be lessened by increasing the fiber in the diet and increasing fluid and activity as well.

If constipation continues for 2-3 days you may need laxatives or stool softeners, hence consult your physician first.

Hair Loss-

Many a time chemotherapy drugs affect the hair, sometimes covering all the body hairs like eyebrows, lashes, and pubic hairs. Hair fall depends on person to person. It may start in 2-3 weeks after the first treatment and may extend up to a week.

To cope with hair loss it’s important to maintain that self-confidence first, there are many services available that can help the sufferers and change their appearance.

But after the hair loss it’s also important to protect the scalp from heat or sunlight, so always cover yourself with a scarf and use sunblock before moving out in the daytime.

Most people witness the regrowth after 2-3 months of the last treatment, but again it’s different for different people. The regrowth may be different in color and feel from the previous one.

Skin Reaction or Changes-

Skin is another important body part that may show normal to severe side effects of chemotherapy. If the chemotherapy is given via Intravenous injection, the development of redness, pain, or soreness near the area is common. During and after every chemotherapy session it’s important to consult the oncophysician.

Side effects may include itching, redness, peeling, and acne. Some medications can leave darkened skin, nails, etc.

Change in Fertility-


Chemotherapy drugs can also lower sperm count and their ability to move. This can cause infertility which can be temporary or permanent. Other side effects include problems with erection, chromosomal damage, etc.

Before starting the process, one must discuss this with the physician and note this aspect as well.


Cancer drugs affect the ovaries and lower the amount of hormonal production. Menstrual cycles are also affected due to the chemotherapy sessions. These changes could be temporary or permanent as well.

Even though pregnancy is possible during chemotherapy but is not advisable because of high-dose drugs which may cause birth defects.

Refer to the doctor about birth control during the sessions which are best fitted for your body.

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