Chemotheraphy side effects

surgical | oncology
adjuvant | neo adjuvant | hormonal | chemotherapy | radiotheraphy | follow-up

Chemotherapy side effects

While antioestrogens have few side effects, chemotherapy is associated with troublesome side effect in about half of the patients receiving these drugs. This is because chemotherapy is toxic to all cells, particularly cells that are rapidly dividing (mitosis). Thus cancer cells, because they have a high mitosis rate, succumb to chemotherapy. Many normal body cells that also have a high mitotic index are destroyed by chemotherapy. This is why the gut and the bone marrow are so sensitive to chemotherapy and why the hair is lost.

When the gut cells are affected, the patient complains of nausea, vomiting, haematermesis (vomiting of blood), bloody diarrhoea, and stomatitis. When the bone marrow is involved, the red blood cells decrease- anaemia; the white blood cells decrease- agranulocytosis and a fall in the T cells- infection and immune deficiency; the platelets decrease- bleeding.

Hair loss almost always recovers completely following chemotherapy.

A long term risk associated with adjuvant chemotherapy is premature ovarian failure in premenopausal women. This risk is age related, most women younger than 30 will continue to menstruate during and after chemotherapy but approximately 90% of women over the age of 40 years will have premature ovarian failure.