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Understanding potential side effects will help you prepare for them. Not every person will experience side effects. For those that do, they vary by person and by treatment. Some side effects are more common such as fatigue, dehydration, decreased appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Though these side effects may be most common, they are not as prevalent as they once were due to years of research and advancements in care. Many of these symptoms can be controlled, so it’s important to let your care team know if you’re experiencing these symptoms.

The most common side effect is fatigue. Fatigue for someone facing cancer is much different than for those without the disease. Your body is fighting off cancer, and it’s in overdrive. Fatigue builds over time. Those without cancer can take a nap and feel refreshed, but someone battling cancer often wakes up from a nap feeling more fatigued. We encourage you to stay active and continue to do your normal everyday activities. Simple things like walking to your mailbox and back, doing laps in your living room, or playing outside with your family can help offset the fatigue you are feeling.

Other common side effects include:

  • Low blood counts
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Pain/discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal changes, including:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Mouth and throat changes
  • Hair loss

Here are some tips to manage side effects:

  • Good nutrition
  • Adequate fluid intake
  • Physical activity
  • Inform your doctor of all your medications
  • Good hand hygiene
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Share how you’re feeling
  • Talk to your care team