Chemotherapy Side Effects

You may experience different side effects during cancer treatment. These can vary depending on your cancer type, stage and the kind of treatment you are undergoing.


While chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, it is the damage to healthy cells that causes many of the common side effects of chemotherapy. Side effects vary depending on the type of chemotherapy drug used and the individual person. Most are temporary and can be treated or managed. Some side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Hair loss, skin changes, nail changes
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Infection
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Anaemia
  • Hypersensitive (allergic) reactions, which may be life-threatening
  • Infertility
  • Second malignancies such as leukemias (rare)
  • Lymphoedema

It is important to know that many patients do not experience these side effects. For those who do, the symptoms can often be well managed via medication.

Please note this list of side effects is not exhaustive. It is important to consult your doctor or nurse if you experience unusual symptoms. While it is rare, some patients can experience severe and even life-threatening side effects following the administration of chemotherapy. Your doctors and nurses are trained in identifying and preventing this from occurring.

We encourage you to discuss any concerns you have.

Please proceed with your cancer treatment only after you have fully understood, the risk of these treatment-related side effects.

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