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Chemotherapy Side Effects

  1. Anemia and Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy can damage your body’s ability to make red blood cells, so body tissues do not get enough oxygen, a condition called anemia. People who have anemia may feel very weak or tired, dizzy, faint, or short of breath, or may feel that their hearts are beating very fast.

  2. Appetite / Taste Changes and Chemotherapy

    Treatment for cancer, as well as the cancer itself, can affect your sense of taste or smell. You may find that many foods seem to have less taste. Other foods, especially meat or other high-protein foods, may taste bitter or metallic.

  3. Hair Loss and Chemotherapy

    People often choose to wear wigs, scarves, or hats while or after losing their hair. If this is what you would like to do, pick them out ahead of time and start wearing them before your hair is completely gone.

  4. Infection and Chemotherapy

    To reduce your risk for infection, avoid people who are sick with contagious illnesses, including colds, the flu, measles, or chickenpox.

  5. Managing Mucositis in Children

    Mucositis can be a very troublesome and painful side effect of chemotherapy. Common symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramping or tenderness.

  6. Neutropenia: A Vulnerable Time for Infections

    Neutropenia is a condition in which the body has a very low number of white blood cells. Because white blood cells attack harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi, neutropenia increases the risk for infections.

  7. Nutritional Management of Constipation During Cancer Treatment

    Check with your doctor to see if you can increase the fiber in your diet. If you can, try foods like whole-grain breads and cereals, dried fruits, wheat bran, and wheat germ; fresh fruits and vegetables; and dried beans and peas.

  8. Nutritional Management of Loss of Appetite During Cancer Treatment

    Nausea, vomiting, or changes in food’s taste or smell all may contribute to a person's losing his or her appetite. Sometimes, the cancer treatment itself will make you feel like not eating.

  9. Nutritional Management of Nausea/Vomiting During Cancer Treatment

    If you have nausea and vomiting, choose foods that are easy to chew, swallow, and digest, such as toast, crackers, and pretzels; yogurt; sherbet; skinned chicken; ice chips; and carbonated drinks.

  10. Nutritional Management of Taste Alterations During Cancer Treatment

    Try these ideas: Serve food chilled rather than hot. Try tart foods, such as oranges or lemonade, which may have more taste. A tart lemon custard might taste good and will also provide needed protein and calories.

  11. Skin/Nails and Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy can affect both the skin and nails. It may cause an increased sensitivity to the sun as well as redness, rashes, itching, peeling, dryness, or acne. Nails may become darkened, yellow, brittle, or cracked, and may also develop vertical lines or ridges.