What are late effects of chemotherapy?

By Mayo Clinic News Network

The side effects of chemotherapy can last for some time after treatment is over. New side effects can also emerge after you've finished chemotherapy. These kinds of side effects are sometimes called late effects.

If you're undergoing chemotherapy, make sure to:

Ask your doctor if the drugs you're taking put you at risk of late effects and if so, what types of late effects. Ask what signs and symptoms to watch for that may signal a problem. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, even if they arise months or years after your last treatment.

Late effects vary depending on the chemotherapy drug being used. They may include the following.

Heart problems

Irregular heartbeat, heart attack and heart failure are among the late effects of chemotherapy. The risk is greater among people with a history of heart disease.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

Chest pain Shortness of breath Blue or purple skin color

Symptoms might not appear until a problem is more advanced, so expect your doctor to do regular electrocardiograms (ECGs) and blood tests to monitor changes in your heart's function.

Brittle bones (osteoporosis)

If you're a woman undergoing chemotherapy, you're at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Cancer drugs can disrupt your hormone system, leading to reduced levels of estrogen, which has a protective effect on bone.

You generally don't have symptoms of osteoporosis until you break a bone. Ask your doctor about a bone mineral density test, which can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.

Cognitive (mental) impairment

Chemotherapy has been associated with decreased cognitive functioning. The cognitive areas most affected include attention, self-regulation, working memory and planning.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

Forgetting things you usually have no trouble recalling Trouble concentrating Disorganized, slower thinking and processing Nerve damage

Chemotherapy commonly affects the sensory nerves -- nerves that sense touch, heat or pain. Less often, cancer drugs can also affect nerves that control muscle movement and rarely, nerves that help control involuntary functions such as digestion.

Tell your doctor if you have any of the following:

Burning or prickling sensations in your fingers, toes, arms or legs Uncontrolled muscle twitching Loss of balance when your eyes are shut Reduced ability to feel pain or changes in temperature Second cancers

Approximately 10 to 20 percent of cases of blood, bone marrow and lymph node cancers are caused by chemotherapy. The risk varies depending on the drug used but, overall, increases with higher drug doses and longer treatment time.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

Anemia Infections Bleeding Bone or joint pain Swelling in your abdomen

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/chemotherapy/in-depth/chemotherapy-side-effects-after-treatment-is-done/art-20111072/


More Stories

Don't Miss

  • Just Drive
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Movie Listings
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Salute the Badge
  • Online Games
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • All in a Day's Drive

Trending Stories

Latest News