Other Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Here are some other side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy:-


In layman terms, thrombocytopenia means low platelet count. This is quite common in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy because healthy cells are affected out of which platelets are affected too. Low platelet counts make the body more prone to bleeding. Since platelets are responsible for the blood clotting in the body, low platelet count will affect the clotting factor. For example, heavy menstruation, continuous bleeding if got bruised somewhere on the body is very common.


In layman terms, neutropenia means low WBC (white blood cell) count. This is again the most common issue seen in the people undergoing chemotherapy. Chemo drugs are so powerful that they have the ability to deplete WBC counts in the body. WBC’s are soldiers of our body. They play a very important role in maintaining the immune system of our body. these WBC’s fight with infectious microorganism to protect us against diseases. If the WBC count goes down in the body, this will result to a very weak immune system which in turn means that body becomes prone to diseases and infection. Care must be taken for such patients to avoid coming in contact with infectious microorganisms for example keeping up the hygiene, avoid going in crowded places, avoid coming in direct contact with anyone, cover your face before going out of the house. These are few options of extra care which one must take if he/she is undergoing chemotherapy. Never let your soldiers lose.

Increased Risk of heart attack-

Cancer is itself a big task which people need to handle. But people who choose chemotherapy, definitely wants to live for long. Chemotherapy destroys all the cells causing cancer however it not only destroys the cancerous cells but they also destroy healthy cells and tissues of the body. Cardiac muscles are also affected which results into cardiomyopathy. Pumping blood is also affected because of chemotherapy which in turn increases risk of heart attack.

Increased memory problems-

Chemotherapy drugs sometimes interfere with the functions of central nervous systems causing memory issues, coordination issues. Patients undergoing chemotherapy might have problems in thinking. These symptoms are named as chemo fogs. Anxiety and stress is something that comes attached with these severe symptoms.

Digestive tract problems-

  • Drugs which can kill cancer cells are definitely strong enough to damage other cells as well.
  • Patients undergoing chemotherapy often face issues with their digestive or gastrointestinal tract.
  • Some patients cannot get the actual taste of the food because a typical metallic taste is there in the mouth which makes the food unpalatable.
  • With every session, complications increase like dry mouth and mouth sores on the gums as well which makes swallowing very difficult for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Mouth sores can be worst, it may bleed and cause other infections as well.
  • Nausea is the most common symptom which is seen among patients undergoing chemotherapy. Nausea can be worst. It can lead to vomiting as well.
  • Because of this, patients lose their appetite which makes them weak and tremendous weight loss is also seen.
  • Whatever happens, healthy foods are the only way that can help you deal with these side effects of chemotherapy.

 Hair loss-

  • Chemotherapy drugs are so heavy that along with cancer cells they affect hair follicles as well. This is one of the most painful part of chemotherapy. This pain might not affect the patient physically but has a big impact emotionally.
  • Drugs make the hair follicles go so weak that alopecia (hair loss) is something which is bound to happen.
  • Hair loss is just from scalp but it also occurs on eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair as well.
  • Hair regrows after the last chemotherapy sessions.

 Skin and nails problems-

  • In some patient’s chemotherapy drugs causes dryness of skin as well which causes irritation and skin rashes. Because of continuous itching, patients develop sensitivity of skin. Which makes it very susceptible to infection.
  • Heavy dosage drugs also affect nails which makes them brittle. In extreme cases, nails are completely worn off which is very painful and it becomes susceptible to various infections.
  • Extra care and precaution needs to be taken for such patients to avoid any more infections.

 Kidney problems-

  • Kidney is that organ which is responsible for excretion of toxins out of the body.
  • Kidney is responsible to excrete out even a smallest paracetamol. More intake of drugs puts more pressure on kidneys to excrete it out.
  • When it comes to chemotherapy drugs, excreting heavy drugs out of the body is a big task.
  • Sometimes it so happens that kidney is unable to take load of these drugs and it results into kidney failure but this happens in rare cases (extreme ones)
  • In most of the kidneys, functioning of kidney is affected. Common symptoms like decreased urination, burning sensation while urinating, increased urge of urination, pain in the abdomen, water retention in the body are few most common symptoms which indicates that kidney isn’t functioning well!
  • Patients who are under cancer medications, might witness change in the colour of urine. This is not something to worry about. Drugs are causing this colour change.

Hormonal imbalance-

  • Chemotherapy drugs interfere with the functioning of hormones as well.
  • Women are worst affected.
  • Irregular periods, no menstruation, early menopause, permanent infertility are few symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
  • That’s not all, as chemotherapy sessions pass complications keeps on increasing. In later stages of chemotherapy women face dryness in vagina which makes intercourse very uncomfortable which ultimately leads to disinterest.
  • Hormonal imbalance is not just seen in women but it affects men under chemotherapy as well.
  • Most common complication which these men face is low sperm counts and erectile dysfunction.

 Fall in Bone mineral density-

  • Bone mineral density usually drops down with age.
  • But patients especially women undergoing chemotherapy can witness sudden fall in the bone mineral density and calcium levels falls down drastically.
  • Cancer related osteoporosis is very common for such women.
  • Right nutrition can definitely help them with the complications a body can face with less calcium!

Emotional impact-

  • Cancer is something which can scare any dam person.
  • The word itself has that impact which can put anyone into depression.
  • Handling cancer with responsibilities is no joke.
  • Fear of death is always there in the mind of cancer patients.
  • It is very important to change the mindset and attitude of these patients.
  • ‘I won’t’ should be changed to ‘I will’
  • Massage therapies can help these patients to stay calm and think positive.


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Dr. Trishala Chopra

With varied degrees, Trishala Chopra gets a complete hold in her subject! She is currently pursuing her doctorate in the field of alternative therapies and her diploma in sports nutrition. Her knowledge in the field of naturopathy,yoga, ayurveda, clinical nutrition, nutraceuticals makes her a complete package of knowledge!

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