Some people have no side effects at all from their treatment. Sometimes, however, the chemotherapy or treatment you are having will make you feel sick.  Each type of treatment has different side effects and these will be discussed with you before starting any treatment so you know what to expect. 

Chemotherapy targets cells that are quickly dividing, whether it's a cancer cell or not.  Therefore, some non-cancer cells that divide quickly are also damaged. The following is a list of some normal cells that divide quickly in the body and may be susceptible to the effects of chemotherapy:

  • Cells in your hair (can cause hair loss)
  • Cells of the skin and mouth (can cause sores in your mouth and dry skin)
  • Cells in your stomach and intestines (can cause you to feel sick, vomit or have diarrhoea)
  • Cells in your bone marrow.  This is where your red and white blood cells are made.  White blood cells fight infections, so temporarily you are very prone to these and they can become serious. Loss of red blood cells can make you anaemic and tired.

There are many medicines you can take to reduce or lessen these unwanted effects of chemotherapy. Your care team will talk to you about these and what is appropriate for your situation.

Last updated 23 October 2020.