The Side Effects of Chemotherapy on the Body

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful enough to kill rapidly growing cancer cells, but they also can harm perfectly healthy cells, causing side effects throughout the body.


Chemotherapy can interfere with the body’s ability to produce healthy blood platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells. Low blood counts can lead to a variety of serious side effects. read more.

Foggy thinking and memory problems plague some chemotherapy patients. This unsettling side effect can further anxiety and stress. read more.

The gums, insides of the cheeks, tongue, and throat are prone to sores. Great care must be taken to avoid infection. read more.

Some patients suffer from constipation, and others from diarrhea. Weight loss and weakness are common. read more.

It’s not cancer that causes baldheadedness in cancer patients. It’s the chemotherapy. Some forms of chemo damage the hair follicles, so you might lose all your body hair, but remember: it’s only temporary. read more.

Some chemotherapy patients develop brown, cracked fingernails and toenails. read more.

Chemotherapy can harm sperm and cause hormonal fluctuations. Infertility may be temporary or permanent. read more.

Decreased urination may be a sign that chemotherapy is harming the kidneys. read more.

Swollen hands and feet may be a sign that your kidneys are working overtime. read more.

Chemotherapy and its side effects add to the stresses of everyday life and can become overwhelming. Complementary therapies and support groups can lighten the load. read more.

Chemotherapy can weaken the heart muscle, especially in someone who has a preexisting heart condition. read more.

Tired, achy muscles can interfere with balance, coordination, and motor skills. read more.

Nausea is one of the most common symptoms of chemotherapy. Powerful anti-nausea medications given during treatment can ease or eliminate vomiting. read more.

Beginning with the mouth, chemotherapy can disturb the entire digestive system, causing a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms that can eliminate the appetite. read more.

Some people suffer dry, irritated skin. Others develop sensitivity to sunlight and must take special precautions to avoid sunburn when outdoors. read more.

If symptoms of chemotherapy are severe, it might be hard to “get in the mood,” but it’s usually a temporary problem. read more.

Chemotherapy can affect the menstrual cycle, cause hot flashes, and trigger early menopause. read more.

Red urine isn’t necessarily a problem—it may just be certain chemotherapy drugs working their way out of your system. read more.

A long-term side effect of chemotherapy is cancer-related osteoporosis. read more.

Chemotherapy in the Blood
Chemo Brain
Mouth Sores
Digestive Distress
The Signature Side Effect
Fingernail and Toenail Trouble
Chemotherapy and Fertility
Chemo in the Kidneys
Swollen Hands and Feet
Anxiety and Depression
Chemotherapy and the Heart
Muscles and Motor Skills
Nausea and Vomiting
Loss of Appetite
Skin in Need of Soothing
Sexual Dysfunction
Fast-Tracked Menopause
Chemo Effect on the Bladder
Chemo's Long-Term Effect on Bones