Effects of Treatment

Cancer treatment is geared toward positive outcomes, such as removing the cancer, reducing tumor size and preventing recurrence. However, many of the treatments used to accomplish that have their own challenges for our bodies. Prior knowledge of what to expect helps in treatment decision-making and getting the support you need to deal with these effects.

Depression: About one-fourth of cancer patients become depressed, often due to the stressful issues a cancer diagnosis raises.

Fatigue: The most common effect of cancer treatment, this fatigue is different than the kind healthy people experience.

Gastrointestinal complications: Constipation, diarrhea, bowel obstruction or radiation enteritis are all possibilities with cancer and its treatment.

Myelosuppression: A side effect of some chemotherapy is depression of the bone marrow, which reduces its ability to produce white blood cells to fight infection, platelets for clotting and red blood cells. Medications are available to stimulate the bone marrow to produce white cells to fight infection and sepsis.

Nausea and Vomiting: These can be serious consequences of cancer treatment and must be controlled so cancer therapy can continue and you can live your normal life. Healthy diets and good nutrition are especially important for cancer patients, but the treatment may impact your ability to get adequate nutrition without the help of professionals.

Pain: Tumors, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can all cause pain.

Peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that control the movement of our arms and legs and activity of the bladder and bowel.

Sleep disorders: More common in people with cancer, sleep may be disturbed by the cancer, pain, or certain drugs or treatments.

Sexual dysfunction: Treatment of rectal and anal cancer can create changes in a patient’s self-image and sexual function. Physicians and counselors can help manage that.