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.
Fatigue: The most common effect of cancer treatment, this fatigue is different than the kind healthy people experience. It can result from any type of cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy side effects: Certain types of chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting, temporary hair loss and other symptoms. Newer medications make these conditions manageable.
Low blood counts: Different types of treatment can cause a drop in different blood components, requiring monitoring and possibly replacement, as in the case of red cells (anemia).
Low Sodium: This treatable side effect can cause muscle weakness, a higher risk of blood clotting and loss of appetite.
High calcium: This treatable side effect can cause confusion, constipation and belly pain.
Pain: Tumors, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can all cause pain with cancer.
Peripheral neuropathy: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that control the sensations in our hands and feet, causing numbness, tingling and pain at times.
Sleep disorders: More common in people with cancer, sleep may be disturbed by the cancer, pain or certain drugs or treatments.
Targeted therapies may have other symptoms. Your physician can advise you on specific therapies and what to watch for and report.
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.