Chemotherapy is a type of treatment most often used for cancer. It is often an effective cancer treatment, but since it involves such powerful drugs, there is a risk that the patient will experience side effects. Some of these side effects are minor and go away, but some are serious and can cause long-term complications.
Infertility as an after-treatment effect of chemotherapy can affect both men and women. This side effect most often happens several months to several years after chemotherapy has been administered.
Most patients who have chemotherapy will not experience heart problems, however some will, and in some cases this damage can be permanent. Those who are receiving chemotherapy along with a class of drugs called biological therapy drugs are at the highest risk of developing heart problems as an after-treatment side effect of chemotherapy. Those with pre-existing heart problems are more likely to experience further problems.
Some patients who have had chemotherapy will experience lung problems as an after-treatment effect. The most common lung problem is trouble breathing and shortness of breath. The shortness of breath is most common during exercising or walking up an incline such as stairs or hills. These lung problems occur due to chemotherapy drugs causing the lung tissue to become thicker and less flexible.
Risk of Second Cancer
All patients who have had chemotherapy face the risk of their cancer reoccurring. This risk is greater in the months following treatment and will slowly decrease as the years pass. However, some patients who experience a cancer recurrence will face a much more difficult battle. They may also need to use different chemotherapy drugs, because some patient's bodies will have become resistant to the chemotherapy used to treat their initial cancer.
Nerve damage, also referred to as peripheral neuropathy, may occur after chemotherapy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that causes pain due to nerve damage. Most patients with this condition experience numbness and pain in their feet and hands. Many patients will notice a decrease in their symptoms over time, but when due to chemotherapy it can take several years, and some patients suffer permanent nerve damage.