The side effects of chemotherapy (chemo) depend on the type of chemo. They also depend on the amount given. Side effects can be planned for and managed. This will help reduce them and give the best possible experience for the person getting chemo.
Each person's health profile and diagnosis are different. Their reaction to treatment is different, too. You may not have side effects. Or they may be mild or severe. Talk with your cancer care team about the possible side effects of treatment before the treatment starts.
Nearly all chemo medicines suppress the bone marrow. This causes the marrow to make fewer red blood cells. The timing of this effect varies by the medicines used and the doses used for your treatment. Red blood cells carry oxygen and white blood cells fight infection. Platelets help control bleeding and bruising. The risks for anemia, severe tiredness (fatigue), infection, bleeding, and bruising go up when your bone marrow is suppressed.
These are the most common symptoms of bone marrow suppression. But symptoms may be a bit different for each person.
Symptoms of a low red blood cell count may include:
Pale skin, lips, and nail beds
Faster heart rate
Easy tiring with exertion
Shortness of breath
Symptoms of a low white blood cell count only happen if an infection occurs because of the low count. These may include:
Fever and chills
An area that is warm to touch
Symptoms of a low platelet count may include:
Bleeding through nosebleeds, or from the gums or mouth
Tiny red spots on the skin
Blood in the urine
Dark or black bowel movements
The symptoms of bone marrow suppression may seem like other health problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.