Effects of Treatment
Cancer treatment is geared toward positive outcomes, such as removing the cancer, replacing abnormal blood-producing cells in bone marrow with healthy ones 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.
Constitutional effects: Fatigue, kidney stones, sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, and pain
Toxicities from chemotherapy or radiation: These may include: constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, rashes, hair loss, nutritional effects, nausea and vomiting, peripheral neuropathy
Graft versus host disease: If you undergo a stem-cell transplantation from a donor, you’re at risk of developing graft versus host disease (GVHD). The older you are, the higher your risk. GVHD develops when the donor’s immune cells mistakenly attack the patient’s normal cells. It can be mild, moderate or severe. New drugs have been approved to counteract the effect.
Infections and the need for blood products: During the early stages of stem cell transplant when the diseased bone marrow has been eradicated, patients are at a high risk of infection and may need blood products such as red blood cells until the new stem cells start producing healthy blood cells.
Cardio-oncology is a new medical discipline focused on optimally treating any associated heart conditions in patients who have been treated for cancer, or are currently being treated for cancer. Specialized cardiologists can assess patients for the potential risk of developing certain heart conditions, especially if they are receiving particular types of cancer drugs, or following radiation treatment to the chest.