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Managing Side Effects

Receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing cancer treatment can be challenging for both you and your loved ones. Unwanted side effects can intensify the disruption in your life even further.

Side Effects

An important step in managing your cancer and its treatment is to be informed. Cancer is a complex and challenging disease that is treated in many different ways. Before making a decision about your treatment, it is helpful to know what the common short and long-term side effects are and how to manage them. Everyone experiences treatment and side effects differently, but it can help to feel prepared. The more you know about your cancer diagnosis, treatment options, and possible side effects, the easier it will be to talk with your healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Common Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Below is a list of common side effects. You may experience other side effects that are not listed. Your body, cancer diagnosis, and cancer treatment are unique. Your best resource is your healthcare team. Talk to them about what side effects are likely to occur. Being better informed can help you and your healthcare team to proactively manage or possibly prevent side effects of cancer treatment so they will not decrease your quality of life or disrupt your treatment. 

Some people decide they do not want certain side effects, so they talk with their healthcare team about a different form of treatment. Others manage their side effects and continue to live as normally as possible. Your healthcare team knows your unique situation and will provide you with tailored advice to help make you more comfortable throughout your treatment.

Anemia & Infection

Low blood cell counts can put you at risk for anemia, infection, or bleeding. stacked rocks on beach

Cancer Cachexia

Drastic weight and muscle loss estimated in 50% of people with cancer.

Cognitive Changes

Treatment may affect thinking, memory, concentration, and behavior.

Constipation & Diarrhea

People undergoing treatment may experience changes in bowel function.

Difficulty Breathing

Breathing problems may be a side effect of treatment or a symptom of cancer.


Fatigue is described as feeling tired, weary, exhausted or worn out.

Hair Loss

Not all treatments cause hair loss, and most hair loss is not permanent.

Intimacy & Fertility Issues

There are ways to address both intimacy and fertility concerns.


Swelling can occur if treatments block or damage lymph nodes.

Mouth & Throat Changes

Some treatments may lead to mouth sores, dry mouth, or changes in taste or smell.

Nausea & Vomiting

Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up can impact eating and nutrition.

Pain & Neuropathy

Pain and discomfort can keep you from living your life as fully as possible.

Skin & Nail Changes

Most skin and nail changes, if they occur, will get better after treatment.

Sleep Changes

Sleep disruptions may include excessive sleep or too little sleep.

Weight Change

Weight changes are common before, during, and after treatment.

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