The most common side effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, nausea, and oral mucositis." /> chemotherapy side effects, effects of chemotherapy, cancer chemotherapy | Anticancer Fund

I am worried about the side effects of chemotherapy. Is there anything that can be done?

Many side effects from chemotherapy can be treated well.

The most common side effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, nausea, and oral mucositis.

Hair loss can be difficult to cope with, since it changes your appearance. Even though there are few to no therapies to prevent or treat the suffered hair loss, there are ways to deal with it. Many countries have projects offering free or cheap wigs to cancer patients. Patients support groups can also help to cope with the difficulty of hair loss. Remember that the hair loss is almost always temporary but can be permanent in less than 1 of 10 000 patients treated with chemotherapy.

Nausea can be treated well with drugs, such as dopamine, glucocorticoids, benzodiazepines, and cannabinoids. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about them. Oral mucositis or sores in the mouth can be a disturbing side effect, because it makes eating and drinking painful, up to the point where the patients has to be fed with a feeding tube. The treatment of oral mucositis is mainly supportive, with a focus on oral hygiene. Some medicine can be given previous to chemotherapy or radiation – also a possible cause for mucositis – to prevent severe mucositis.

After treatment, your doctor can prescribe you a medicinal mouthwash, or he or she can advise you to wash your mouth with salt water or suck on ice cubes to relieve the pain.

Fellow patients, for instance in patient support groups can help you deal with side effects. Often, there are ways to make them more bearable, even when they cannot be completely prevented or treated.

The list of possible side effects of chemotherapy medications can be very long. Remember that not every patient will suffer from every side effect in the same degree. Some patients experience very few side effects during their treatment.