Chemotherapy side effects


Since all cytostatics damage normal cells as well as tumor cells, side effects of chemotherapy are inevitable. But this is accepted because only aggressive therapy can fight the tumor.
However, it is seldom possible to predict the severity of the side effects as these vary from patient to patient. The type of side effects also depends heavily on the drug used.
For more information, read our topic Chemotherapy substances

The tyrosine kinase inhibitors are also chemotherapeutic agents. In contrast to the classic chemotherapeutic agents, the tyrosine kinase inhibitors work in a targeted manner and thus cause fewer side effects. Read more about tyrosine kinase inhibitors and find out which cancers they can be used for at: Targeted chemotherapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors

Acute toxicity can occur if the intravenous catheter is not properly placed and the chemo "para“Can run, that means not into the vein but into the surrounding tissue. There is severe pain that occurs with a Skin reaction (Redness, Blow) accompanied.

The following can occur with different time delays:

Immediate response: nausea, VomitFever, allergic reactions, drop in blood pressure, Cardiac arrhythmias, Phlebitis

Delayed, reversible reactions: Change in the im blood occurring cells, inflammation of the mucous membranes, Gastrointestinal diseases with diarrhea and Loss of appetiteHair loss, skin changes, fertility disorder, Diseases of the lungs, Liver disease and Kidney function damage.

Below are some of the side effects listed above:

Single side effects

Hair loss

The side effect of hair loss occurs on all parts of the body - eyelashes and eyebrows also fall out. As a rule, however, the hair grows back, usually even thicker than before. It can also happen that the color of the hair is slightly changed. For more information on this topic, please follow the link hair loss.

Inflammation of the mucous membranes

The mouth and throat in particular can be affected by inflammation, some of which can be very painful. You have to be careful here, as these wounds in the mouth and throat tend to be infected by bacteria and fungi (Oral thrush) become infected. White deposits would arise.

Nausea and vomiting

Vomiting is normally a protective reflex of the body to remove harmful substances from the body. This is irritating in a way that has not yet been clarified Cytostatic the vomiting center in the brain and thus triggers side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Since nausea and vomiting lead to extreme discomfort in the patient, this must and can be avoided. There are good remedies, so-called antiemetics, which help to get the nausea under control very quickly. In order to achieve even better results, the antiemetics are given as prophylaxis during chemotherapy (dexamethasone, Setrons, MCP). For more information on this subject, please follow the link vomiting.

Read more about this under Anti-Nausea Medication and Anti-vomiting medication

Changes in blood count

Our blood cells are made in the bone marrow from what are known as stem cells. These are very sensitive to chemotherapy and are so damaged that they can no longer produce enough cells for our blood. First and foremost are the white blood cells (here mostly the so-called neutrophils Granulocytes) and the platelets (Platelets) affected. These two components of the blood have crucial tasks for the organism, the neutrophils are important for our defense against infection, the platelets play a major role in stopping bleeding. If these two components are now reduced, we are more susceptible to infections and bleed even with minor injuries. Since we have practically no functioning immune system during this time, normally mild infections can be life-threatening. It is therefore important to keep the risk of infection as low as possible - the patient himself, but also the people around him, should wear mouthguards and gloves. If an infection does occur despite all the precautionary measures, one must act quickly and treat with a wide range of antibiotics. For some years now, it has been possible to increase the number of neutrophils using a new drug (G-CSF). In this way we are able to build up a competent defense situation more quickly.

Of course, the red blood cells (erythrocytes) are also affected by chemotherapy. The drop in erythrocytes leads to side effects of anemia (anemia), the so-called hemoglobin value drops. Since the erythrocytes transport the vital oxygen that is essential for our energy production, the anemia is accompanied by a drop in performance, and the patients are tired and exhausted.

Loss of appetite

Some patients complain of the side effects of persistent loss of appetite. The food tastes bland (just like "cardboard") and all enjoyment while eating has been lost. This automatically leads to a Weight loss.

The side effects listed up to now are generally reversible after the chemotherapy has been discontinued, i.e. they usually disappear completely.

However, there can also be rare complications that cause permanent damage.

Heart muscle damage

Here the heart muscles are attacked by the chemotherapy, so that they lose part of their ability to contract and thus one Heart failure triggers. Accordingly, if pre-existing Heart disease , but chemotherapy should also be reconsidered at a higher age. In the further course, the heart function should be carefully examined.

Kidney damage

Most Cytostatics be about the kidney eliminated. This means that they inevitably have to pass through the kidneys and may have a toxic (poisonous) effect here. The so-called are particularly affected Renal tubulesthrough which the urine flows and is concentrated here. In addition, important substances that would otherwise be lost through the urine are returned to the tubules Cycle fetched (absorbed). On the other hand, substances that are toxic to the body are excreted in the urine. A damaged kidney can no longer fulfill these functions.

Nerve damage

There is a certain risk of side effects that touch will no longer be properly perceived or the sense of touch no longer works properly. An uncomfortable tingling sensation can also be a result of chemotherapy. Possible damage to our brain has not yet been proven. Be interested in the topic annoy.

Second tumor

Paradoxically, chemotherapy, although used to cure cancer, can cause the growth of a second years after treatment Tumor cause. Thank goodness this "side effect" is very rare. One must not forget that even after a successful cancer cure, the probability of getting cancer again is that of a healthy person. So it is not zero.

Fertility disorder:

In order to be fertile, men and women alike need important hormones (such as testosterone and Progestin). The production of these hormones can be disrupted by chemotherapy and such infertility cause. In addition, chemotherapy can cause the onset of premature disease in women Menopause occur. It mainly affects young patients, for example in the context of a leukemia Treatment received very high doses of chemotherapy. For more information on this topic, please follow our link infertility.

Other organ damage:

As rare further long-term effects, it can also lead to side effects lung (in the form of a so-called pulmonary fibrosis), the liver and the vascular system (high blood pressure) come.

Further information

  • Main topic chemotherapy
  • Performing chemotherapy
  • You Are Here: Chemotherapy Side Effect
  • Substances chemotherapy
  • Chemotherapy side effects breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy side effects lung cancer