Chemotherapy Side Effects

/Chemotherapy Side Effects
Chemotherapy Side Effects 2015-10-21T17:56:42+00:00

Help With Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy affects people in different ways, and although there are some common side effects to the drugs, not everyone will experience them.

The following information can alert you to the most common side effects you may experience while receiving your treatment.

It is important to inform the nurse or doctor of any signs or symptoms of infection including cold/ flu symptoms, diarrhea, mouth sores, or any new symptoms before receiving chemotherapy/ biotherapy.

Call as early in the day as possible so that we will have more resources to assist you. Calls later in the day (after 4:00 pm) may make it necessary for you to go to the emergency room rather than to our clinic.

Note:  In Case of Emergency

In a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or report to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Regular Business Hours

WMCC is open:

Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Phone number: 269-382-2500.

After Hours

Our answering service takes calls after hours and on weekends and holidays. Call us at 269-382 2500.

Infection

Chemotherapy treatments can weaken your body’s ability to fight infection.

Signs and symptoms:
• Fever (100.5° or higher)
• Shaking chills (even if no fever)
• Flushed skin, sweating
• Frequent urination or burning when urinating; cloudy
or bloody urine.
• Redness, tenderness, swelling, drainage, odor or pain anywhere on
the body.
• General feeling of tiredness or flu-like symptoms (sore throat,
sneezing, runny nose, coughing, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea,
shortness of breath, chest discomfort).

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• Notify your nurse or doctor with any of the above signs and
symptoms.

Skin
Chemotherapy treatments can cause skin and nail problems.

Signs and symptoms:
• You develop a dry, itchy, red, or painful rash
• Nails become cracked, dark or yellow, or you see pus
• Hands or feet have abnormal pain, swelling, or redness

Note: Refer to the WMCC Chemotherapy/Biotherapy Patient Guide for more information & reference photos.

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• Notify your nurse or doctor with any of the above signs and
symptoms.

Sun exposure may worsen skin reactions. Use a liberal amount of sunscreen with a minimal SPF 15.  Sunscreens that include the ingredient titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are the best at protecting the skin.

Diarrhea
Chemotherapy treatments can cause diarrhea–frequent bowel movements that may be soft, loose, or watery.  Diarrhea can become a serious problem quickly.

Helpful Tips:
• Take Imodium® AD (Loperamide HCL 2mg tablets)
• This medication is available over the counter at your pharmacy. It is
suggested to take 2 tablets (4mg total) after first loose stool and 1
tablet after any other loose stool for a maximum dose of 12 tablets per
day. This medication should not be taken once diarrhea has stopped.
• Other medications may be used. Please contact your doctor before
starting.

Note: Refer to the WMCC Chemotherapy/Biotherapy
Patient Guide for dietary guidelines.

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• If you are feeling dizzy
• Have a fever of 100.5° F (38° C) or higher
• If you have diarrhea and cramps for more than a day.
• If you experience pain at the rectum or have bleeding around the
rectum.
• If you have more than 3 episodes of diarrhea even after taking
Imodium AD®.

Bleeding
Chemotherapy treatments can lower your platelets, a type of blood cell that helps prevent bleeding by clotting the blood.

Signs and symptoms:
• Bruising easily
• Tiny, pinpoint-sized red or purple spots on your skin (petechiae)
• Nose bleeds
• Bleeding gums
• Prolonged bleeding from a cut
• Black or bloody stool
• Brown or red urine
• Increased vaginal bleeding
• Headaches or vision changes

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• Immediately, if you have bleeding from a procedure or incision site,
or blood in your urine or stool, or uncontrolled nosebleed or bleeding
gums.
• Immediately, if you have headaches, extreme drowsiness (unrelated
to medication), confusion or experience falls.
• If you notice new bruising or petechiae

Anemia
Chemotherapy treatments can lower your red blood cells which carry the oxygen your body needs, causing anemia.

Signs and symptoms:
• Feeling weak/tired
• Dizziness
• Shortness of breath
• Heart palpitations (racing heartbeat)
• Pounding in your head
• Ringing in your ears

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• Notify your nurse or doctor with any of the above signs and
symptoms.

Sore Mouth/GI Tract
Chemotherapy treatments can damage the normal cells of your body, especially those that are produced at a rapid rate. This can include the cells lining your mouth, throat and entire GI tract.

Signs and symptoms:
• A burning feeling in the mouth
• A swollen, inflamed tongue
• Sores in mouth or on lips, red, irritated oral lining
• Pain or any sign of infection (i.e. tongue heavily coated).
• White patches in mouth
• Painful rectum or stomach

Mouth sores can often be prevented or lessened by using the following: Mix ½ to 1 teaspoon salt and ½ to 1 teaspoon baking soda in 8 oz. to 16 oz. of warm water; use a mouthful of this rinse three to five times
per day. Swish, gargle and spit. You may rinse with
fresh water afterwards.

When should I notify my nurse or doctor?
• Rinsing with the above solution (salt, baking soda, and warm water)
does not start to heal the sores.
• Mouth sores are painful.

You experience any of the following, which could indicate an infection:
• Soft, white patches
• Dry, brownish-yellow areas
• Moist, creamy white areas
• Painless, dry, yellow ulcers
• Open sores on the lips or mouth

Please refer to the 42 page Chemotherapy/ Biotherapy Patient Guide for more information to help you manage your health as you undergo treatment.