What cancer treatments cause side effects?
Side effects of cancer treatment have been identified in relation to the three main types of cancer treatments— surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Effects come from each cancer treatment in isolation, as well as the combination.
As new types of cancer treatments are widely used, side effects in cancer survivors may become apparent from other interventions. However, researchers are striving to develop treatments that not only improve survival but also lead to fewer and less serious side effects.
Damage may occur when healthy tissue surrounding the tumor is removed during surgery to increase the likelihood of getting all the cancer cells. Depending on the part of the body, surgery can damage muscles, bones, nerves and organ systems.
Of course your doctor will do all that he/she can do to prevent any side effects.
Some examples of potential early and late onset side effects from surgery include the following.
- Scarring at the incision site
- Lymphedema; swelling of limbs (arms or legs)
- Problems with movement or activity
- Nutritional problems (for example, if part of the bowel is removed)
- Cognitive problems such as memory loss, learning disabilities in children, concentration and processing
- Changes in sexual function and fertility
- Pain that may be long-term, chronic or acutely related to surgery
Psychological effects of physical changes, even if the physical changes are not visible to others (for example, feeling self-conscious about a scar from surgery, even if that scar is usually hidden by clothing).