Sunday, February 18, 2024

Chemo Long Term Side Effects

How Long Can Chemo Side Effects Last

Cleveland Clinic doctors studying long-term chemo side effects

There is no set timeline on side effects from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy will affect each person differently.

Side effects may appear during therapy and can last long after therapy is over. In some cases, long-term chemotherapy side effects may not occur until months or years after treatment.

Some chemotherapy complications may be permanent, while others may subside with time. Doctors may recommend treatments to help manage complications and discuss the risk of permanent complications.

Can Certain Medications Interact With Gemcitabine Chemotherapy

Yes, its possible that some medications may interact with gemcitabine. Before starting on gemcitabine, be sure to give your doctor detailed information about any of the following things you may take:

  • prescription medications

flu shot ) are safe and recommended during chemotherapy.

Live vaccines , such as chickenpox and rubella, arent typically recommended during chemo. This is because your immune response to them may not be as good.

If youre undergoing chemotherapy treatment, its a good idea to check with your doctor before scheduling a vaccine.

Fu Is Most Effective When Used In Combination With Other Drugs

By itself, 5FU may not be very effective. This is because cancer cells have several mechanisms by which they can become resistant to 5FU.

5FU is far more effective when combined with other cancer drugs. For example, when 5FU is used alone for advanced colorectal cancer, the treatment response rate is

In many cases, 5FU is delivered directly into your bloodstream , which means it can reach many areas throughout the body. This is called systemic treatment.

There are several ways that you can receive 5FU intravenously. These include the following:

  • Peripheral IV line: This is a thin tube placed into a vein in your arm or in the back of your hand.
  • Central venous catheter : A CVC consists of a narrow, flexible tube called a catheter thats inserted through your chest and into a large vein near your heart. A port is used to deliver medicine into a CVC.
  • PICC line: A PICC line is a catheter thats inserted into a vein in your arm and threaded to a large vein near your heart. The end of the catheter sticks out through your skin and its opening is covered with a special cap.
  • Bolus dose : Many people on chemotherapy regimens containing 5FU get an IV bolus as a loading dose . This is followed by a connection to a home infusion system where the drug runs slowly over many hours .

Chemotherapy is given in cycles. One cycle consists of several weeks of treatment followed by a rest period that gives your body time to recover. For 5FU, youll typically have six cycles of treatment.

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Problems With Different Organs

Some chemotherapy drugs can cause long term problems with specific body organs.

There are drugs that can cause heart damage or lung damage. But cancer doctors are aware of this. You will have tests before and during your treatment so your doctor can keep an eye on your reaction to the drug.

There may be some chemotherapy drugs your doctor won’t use if you have a heart condition. Your doctors will also check you for these effects for some years after your treatment.

What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk Of Long

Welcome to The Hearty Soul

Until we know more about long-term survivorship issues following chemotherapy for adults, there are things you can do:

  • Ask your oncologist about any late effects that you may expect from the particular chemotherapy drugs you were given. Find out when you will need to have the recommended screening tests .
  • Keep a record of your chemotherapy regimen with you in case you see a healthcare provider who is unfamiliar with your medical history.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Make regular appointments with your dentist and eye doctor.
  • Engage in regular physical activity.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Let your healthcare provider know if you experience any new symptoms or worsening of current symptoms you have.

For childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer survivors, long-term follow-up guidelines have been developed to address the long-term side effects and other survivorship issues.

  • American Society of Clinical Oncology. Cancer.Net. Late Effects.

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Negative Effects Of The Treatments

The negative effects by treatment are shown in . Patients treated with prostatectomy and radiotherapies commonly reported urinary and sexual difficulties, and those with external radiotherapy reported also bowel dysfunction. Depending on the treatment, 3348% reported at least one current negative effect after 5 years, and this was more common after prostatectomy and external radiotherapy but less common after brachytherapy .

Table 2 Negative effects in different treatments

Cancer And Peripheral Neuropathy

You have some risk of peripheral neuropathy if you have cancer. Certain factors raise your risk of getting it from cancer or its treatment. These include:

Where the tumor is. A tumor might press on or grow into a nerve. This could cause nerve damage.

Some chemotherapy drugs. Some chemotherapy drugs can damage your nerves, especially in high doses. These include:

  • Platinums, including cisplatin , oxaliplatin , and carboplatin

  • Taxanes, including docetaxel and paclitaxel

  • Vinca alkaloids, including vincristine , vinorelbine , and vinblastine

Before cancer treatment begins, ask your doctor if your chemotherapy includes any drugs on this list. If so, talk with your doctor about your risk for developing peripheral neuropathy after receiving chemotherapy. This is especially important for people who already have neuropathy or who have conditions that may put them at greater risk for developing neuropathy, such as diabetes or a personal or family history of neuropathy.

ASCO does not recommend the use of the dietary supplement acetyl-L-carnitine or any other medication or supplement to prevent peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy. Always talk with your doctor before taking any supplement or over-the-counter medication, because they can interact with cancer treatments.

Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy might damage nerves. It might be years before you notice signs of nerve damage.

Surgery. Lung or breast surgery can cause nerve problems. So can removing an arm or leg.

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Your Bone Marrow And Blood

Chemotherapy can reduce the number of blood cells made by the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a spongy material that is found in the middle of your bones. It makes special cells called stem cells. These develop into the different types of blood cells:

  • red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body
  • white blood cells, which fight and prevent infection
  • platelets, which help the blood to clot and prevent bleeding and bruising.

You will have regular blood samples taken to check the number of these cells in your blood. This is called a full blood count.

Skin And Nail Changes

Long-Term Side Effects of Chemotherapy | Collateral Damage: An Overview

Some drugs can affect your skin. It may become dry or slightly discoloured. Your skin may also be more sensitive to sunlight during and after treatment. Tell your cancer doctor or nurse if you develop any skin changes or rashes.

Chemotherapy can affect your nails. They may grow more slowly or break more easily. You might notice ridges or white or dark lines across your nails. Sometimes nails can become loose or fall out. When treatment finishes, any changes usually disappear as the nails grow out.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you notice changes to your nails. They can give you advice or arrange for you to see a podiatrist for foot care advice if needed.

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How Does Radiotherapy Treatment Work

Radiation therapy works by use of high doses of radiation to kill or slow down its growth rate. In prostate cancer treatment it is used to kill the cancerous cells or slow the growth rate. It also kills the nearby healthy cells as it kills the cancerous cells.

Where curing the cancer is impossible, radiotherapy is used to reduce the symptoms such as pain caused by cancer tumor. It can also be used to prevent the problems that result from cancer tumor such as loss of bowel and bladder control, blindness etc.

*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Here are different types of radiations and how they work:

Coping With The Late Effects Of Chemotherapy

Long-term effects and late effects of cancer treatment are common. Many people find that their “new normal” is not what they would like, and feel frustrated by the symptoms. Cancer survival is improving. It’s only very recently that the term “survivorship” was coined, and the long-range physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of surviving cancer are becoming better understood.

Many of the larger cancer centers now provide cancer rehabilitation to help people maximize their new normal. The STAR program for cancer rehabilitation was designed specifically to address symptoms that prevent cancer survivors from enjoying the quality of life they otherwise can.

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Prostate Seed Brachytherapy Or High Dose Rate Radiation


Immediately after the procedure, patients may have some perineal discomfort and even some bruising for a few days. Patients often experience increased urinary frequency, urgency, weak stream and nighttime urination. These effects are at their greatest for 4-6 weeks after brachytherapy and will dissipate over the following 3-6 months.


Late effects are much less common than early effects, but can be more serious and long lasting. Urinary stricture or incontinence are rare, but can occur particularly in patients who have significant urinary problems prior to treatment. Loss of potency can occur and is directly related to the patients age and erectile function prior to treatment. Rectal inflammation, called proctitis, can occur, but infrequently becomes serious enough to require treatment.

Chasing Perceived Positive Effects May Lead To Heroin Withdrawal

What are some long term side effects of chemo?

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can develop if a person who is dependent on heroin tries to stop taking it all at once.

This condition is one reason why it can be very hard for a person whos addicted to heroin to stop using it, as they will continue using heroin both for its effects and to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

People undergoing withdrawal may experience insomnia, agitation, strong cravings for heroin, as well as diarrhea and vomiting which, together, can severely dehydrate the body.

Certain medications such as methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine can help reduce the discomfort of these symptoms during the withdrawal process and curb drug cravings.

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Acute Side Effects Of Heroin

As a depressant, heroin primarily slows down activity in the bodys central nervous system, which can depress breathing rate, heart rate, and cause drowsiness.

Other physical side effects of heroin can include:

In addition to its physical effects, heroin can also have effects on the brain and emotions. People who use heroin may experience mental fogginess, reduced anxiety, and warmth.

Learn more about the physical effects of heroin.

Symptoms Of Nerve Problems

Nerve problems, or neuropathy, are different for every person. Which problems you have and how serious they are depend on which nerves are damaged. It also depends on how many are affected.

You might have nerve problems during cancer treatment or a short time afterward. They might also get worse after your treatment ends.

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Late Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is applied to the areas of the body that are affected by cancer. Aftereffects occur only in the area that was treated. In some cases, treatment may also include healthy tissue. This is to make certain that all of the cancer is treated.

Newer methods of radiation therapy help minimize damage to normal tissue. Treatment is directed to the same area each time. Yet, radiation rays sometimes scatter. Tissues and organs near the cancer site might receive small doses of radiation if this happens. Late effects of radiation could include:

  • Slowed or halted bone growth in children.
  • Skin sensitivity to sun exposure.
  • Problems with memory or ability to learn.
  • Secondary cancers such as skin cancer.

Other Side Effects Of Taxol

Dr. Maurie Markman on PCP Awareness of Long-Term Chemotherapy Side Effects

Some side effects of paclitaxel may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

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Feeling And Being Sick

Many people having chemotherapy will have periods where they feel sick or are sick .

Your care team can give you anti-sickness medicine to reduce or prevent this.

This is available as:

Side effects of anti-sickness medicines include constipation, indigestion, problems sleeping and headaches.

Tell your care team if your medicine does not help, or it causes too many side effects. There may be a different one that works better for you.

The Impact Of Breast Cancer Treatment On Your Long

The late effects associated with breast cancer treatments. Antonio Wolff, M.D., medical oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, encourages a relationship with a primary care doctor who is knowledgeable about these effects on breast cancer survivors and their long-term health care.

These long-term and late side effects may include:

  • Pain and numbness

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Preventing And Treating Infection

Developing an infection when you have a low number of white blood cells can sometimes be a serious complication of chemotherapy. But most people do not have any serious problems with infection.

Some chemotherapy treatments are more likely than others to reduce the number of white blood cells. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and other medicines to take during chemotherapy, to prevent an infection. These are called prophylactic drugs.

Even a mild infection can delay your chemotherapy treatment. Your doctor may wait until the infection has gone and for your blood cell levels to go back up before you have more chemotherapy.

Your chemotherapy nurse will talk to you about infection and show you how to check your temperature.

You can have an infection without having a high temperature. Drugs such as paracetamol lower your temperature, so they can hide or mask an infection.

Contact the hospital straight away on the 24-hour contact number you have been given if:

  • your temperature goes over 37.5°C
  • you suddenly feel unwell, even with a normal temperature
  • you have symptoms of an infection
  • your temperature goes below 36°C .

Symptoms of an infection include:

  • feeling shivery and shaking
  • needing to pass urine a lot or discomfort when you pass urine.

Chemotherapy units usually have a policy they follow when someone with low white blood cells has an infection. This is to make sure you get treatment with antibiotics straight away.

How Is Gemcitabine Chemotherapy Given

Tackling the long

Gemcitabine is given directly into a vein. This is . It typically takes about 30 minutes to receive an infusion of gemcitabine.

While its possible that you may get gemcitabine through an IV inserted into your hand or arm, you may also receive it through a catheter that goes directly to a large vein in your chest. Some examples include a PICC line or a port.

Like other types of chemo, gemcitabine is given in cycles where theres a period of active treatment followed by a period of rest. This resting time allows your body to recover from the effects of gemcitabine.

A cycle of gemcitabine is typically 3 or 4 weeks long, depending on the type of cancer thats being treated. You receive gemcitabine once each week for 2 or 3 weeks. Youll receive no gemcitabine for the last week in the cycle.

The exact number of cycles used can depend on your specific situation. Be sure to ask your care team about how long you can expect to be receiving treatment with gemcitabine.

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What Are Common Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation

Chemo and radiation cause similar side effects. Chemo is a general term for a wide variety of medicines used to treat cancer. Chemo’s side effects depend on the type of drug used, the dosage, and a child’s overall health. These effects are more likely to affect the whole body.

Radiation’s side effects tend to affect the area being treated. But they do still depend on the dose of radiation given, the location on the body, and whether the radiation was internal or external.

Here are some of the side effects associated with these cancer treatments, and how to manage them:


Tiredness is the most common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation. Even the most active kids are likely to find themselves exhausted and perhaps even a little “foggy-headed” during treatment and possibly for a while afterward. This is normal. Encourage your child to scale back on activities and to rest as much as possible. When treatment is over, your child’s energy should return.


Some chemo drugs cause headaches, muscle pains, stomach pains, or even temporary nerve damage that can result in burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet. If this happens, your doctor can prescribe medicines that can help. Never use over-the-counter or herbal medicines without your doctor’s OK, though, as these can interact with the chemo drugs.

Mouth, Gum, and Throat Sores

Gastrointestinal Problems

Skin Changes

Weight Changes

Hair Loss

Kidney and Bladder Problems


Blood Clotting Problems

Coping And Support For You And Your Family

Coping with the side effects of prostate cancer radiotherapy can be difficult. There are things you can do, and people who can help you and your family to cope.

  • Prostate cancer: diagnosis and managementNational Institute for Health and Care Excellence , 2019. Last updated December 2021

  • Long-term urinary adverse effects of pelvic radiotherapy.P Elliott, B Malaeb.World Journal of Urology, 2011. Volume 29, Pages 35-41

  • Secondary malignancies following radiotherapy for prostate cancerPetros and others

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