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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Chemotherapy Induced Side Effects

Weight gain may result from fluid retention and/or increased appetite. May experience breakthrough menstrual bleeding, hot flashes, mood wings or sweating. Increases in blood sugar and nausea/vomiting occur infrequently. Blood clots are rare.

Side effects are rare but my include mild nausea/vomiting or diarrhea; an allergic reaction resulting in a rash; or flu-like symptoms such as fever, flushing (a reddening of the face and neck) or sore throat.

Common side effects are hot flashes, a decrease in sexual function, swelling and tenderness of the breasts, and a milky discharge from the nipple. Visual changes such as difficulty with night vision and alteration in color perception may occur in up to 60% of patients. Decrease desire to eat (anorexia), nausea, constipation, cough, difficulty breathing, an irritation or inflammation of the lungs are rare.

The most common side effect is a decreased tolerance to cold characterized by pain or tingling in the fingers when touching cold objects or in the mouth and throat when drinking cold beverages or breathing in cold air. This symptom will occur within hours of the treatment and though usually reversible, may worsen with continued treatment. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also common. Decreased blood counts, allergic reactions, kidney and hearing damage are rare.

Decreased blood counts are the most common side effect with an increased risk of infection. Nausea/vomiting are common but not severe. Headache, fatigue and a hypersensitivity reaction characterized by flu-like symptoms may occur. Visual changes such as increased sensitivity to light or double vision have been reported, as well as redness, itching and irritation of the eyes. Ringing or pain in the ears is rare.

A flu-like syndrome including fever, chills, tiredness and headache is common. Bone & joint pain is also common. The body may retain fluid in the legs or feet, causing swelling, or more rarely around the heart or in the lungs. Rarely there may be an acute or immediate reaction at the time of the injection involving a reddening of the face, muscle aches, difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, a rapid heart beat, or a drop in blood pressure will occur with the first dose but not with subsequent ones.

The most common side effect is a drop in blood cell counts primarily the white cells (that help fight off infections) and platelets (which help for clots.) Nausea/vomiting are also common. Less commonly are headache, fatigue and an increased sensitivity to light. There may also be a slight increase the enzymes that are a measure of how well you liver is functioning.

The most serious side effects of this medication are that to an unborn child, it is therefore very important that birth control methods be used while taking this medication, both on the part of the patient as well as their spouse. This involves damage to an unborn child's arms, legs, bones, eyes, ears, heart, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract. Common side effects that the patient may experience include fatigue, dizziness, sleepiness, a drop in blood pressure, tingling or numbness in the feet and hands, and constipation. A rash may develop along with itchy, dry skin if a rash does appear, the drug should be stopped until the rash has resolved. The drug may then cautiously be restarted at the discretion of the physician.