Managing Side Effects

Cancer treatment impacts each person differently, but most will experience some side effects. Below you will find information on some common side effects.

Nausea and vomiting: Nausea is a sick or queasy feeling in your stomach. Vomiting is when you throw up food or liquids and may occur without nausea. It may or may not happen as a result of cancer therapy. Sometimes nausea and vomiting may result from conditions such as infection, bacteria in food, viruses, or cancer itself.

Try to slowly sip cold, clear liquids, seek out foods you know you like, sit upright and rest for an hour after eating, and avoid alcohol. More information: Cancer.gov

Fatigue: Fatigue is when a person does not have enough energy to do things they usually do. Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer therapy. Fatigue related to cancer therapy can be sudden, overwhelming and is not always solved by rest. Fatigue can last for months after treatment ends but generally improves over time.

A daily schedule, regular exercise, 8-10 glasses of water a day, and realistic expectations about what you can get done can help. More information: Cancer.gov

Neutropenia: Neutropenia is when your white blood cell count, your “infection fighters,” is too low. When this happens, there is an increased risk that your body will not be able to fight off an infection or virus.

Wash your hands often, take antibiotics as prescribed, avoid crowds or anyone who is sick, and drink extra fluids. More information: Cancer.gov

Fever: Fever is a body temperature of 100.5℉ or greater when checked orally (by mouth) that lasts longer than 24 hours. Usually, fever is caused by an infection. Infections are most commonly viral, bacterial, or fungal.

Keep warm, get extra rest, avoid crowds or people who are sick, drink plenty of water, and discuss with your team before taking any medications.

Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a loose or watery stool that occurs at least three times within a period of 24 hours. It happens when water in the intestine is not absorbed back into the body normally.

A few suggestions: Adhere to a clear liquid diet when you are having diarrhea (e.g., water, broth, popsicles, gelatin). Advance to the BRATT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, tea) if tolerating clear liquids. Slowly begin solid foods once diarrhea has stopped. More information: Cancer.gov

Constipation: Constipation is the difficult or infrequent passage of hard stool that typically causes pain and discomfort. Too little fluid or not enough movement in the bowel may lead to constipation symptoms. Lack of activity, weakness, ignoring the urge to have a movement, pain medicine, some cancer therapies, or inadequate food and fluid intake all contribute to this problem.

Drink additional fluids; warm or hot liquids in the morning are helpful. Increase fiber in your diet by eating foods such as whole grains, fresh raw fruits and vegetables, fruit juice, dates, and prunes and prune juice. Avoid foods that cause gas such as cabbage, broccoli, and carbonated drinks. More information: Cancer.gov

Dehydration: Dehydration is when there is not enough water in the body or not enough water where it is needed most. Fever, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting can cause dehydration.

Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and avoid lotions with perfumes or alcohol in them. Eat ice chips if you’re having a hard time drinking liquids.

Depression: Depression is common among individuals with cancer. Depression can cause distress, difficulty with regular activities, and difficulty following planned treatment.

Exercise can help, as can keeping to a regular schedule, avoiding naps of more than 45 minutes during the day, counseling, and taking antidepressants when prescribed.

Dont Wait - Call Us First

It is important to keep your CHC team informed of all side effects. Call us for same day care if you experience any of the following:

  • fever, chills, or temperature of 100.5°F or greater
  • vomiting or uncontrolled nausea
  • diarrhea not controlled by Imodium AD
  • shortness of breath
  • if you are unsteady, dizzy, or lightheaded
  • mouth sores

Our Same Day Clinic is open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

For an appointment, call (800) 411-7999.