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Therapy Side Effects

Consider the various side effects of cancer treatments.

A cancer diagnosis is serious which is why treatments can oftentimes be aggressive. Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery have been regularly utilized for cancer. Furthermore, alternative medicines provide many innovative modalities for patients. Before deciding on a treatment plan, it is paramount that patients fully understand the side effects of those therapies. Side effects can not only be discomforting and an inconvenience, but they can also disrupt one’s quality of life perhaps even more than the cancer itself. To provide you with a broader understanding, this article will highlight some of the common side effects of the various possible cancer treatments.


Chemotherapy side effects

  • Nausea and vomiting: Chemotherapy drugs can cause nausea and vomiting as they can irritate the stomach and intestines.

·       Hair loss: Many chemotherapy drugs leads to hair loss on the head, body, and eyebrows.

·       Lower blood cell counts: Chemotherapy can reduce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets as bone marrow function is negatively affected.

·       Infection: Lower white blood cells increase the likelihood of infections

·       Fatigue: Chemotherapy can lead to increased fatigue, which can occur during treatment and last long after treatment ends.


Radiation Therapy side effects:

  • Fatigue: Radiation therapy, similar to chemotherapy can also cause fatigue, particularly as treatment progresses.

  • Skin changes: Skin issues like irritation, redness, and blistering where treatment is targeted.

  • Collateral tissue damage: Radiation can harm surrounding healthy tissue near the treatment area. Depending on the area treated, side effects can be difficulty with urinating or bowel changes. Swallowing can also be an issue.

  • Secondary cancers: cancers arising from the radiation treatment itself may arise in five to ten years. These secondary cancers can be very aggressive.


Surgery side effects:

  • Pain: All surgeries damage tissue and nerves that can lead to discomfort and pain at the incision area often carrying over after the procedure.

  • Scarring: Visible scarring is common in surgeries and the extent of the scar depends on the location and type of surgery.

  • Infection risk: Surgery carries a risk of infection that can occur at the site of the incision and can carry throughout other parts of the body



Alternative therapy side effects: Generally alternative therapies have fewer and less acute side effects than those from conventional cancer treatments. Nevertheless, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Digestive issues: Targeted therapy, herbs, and supplements can cause digestive upset like diarrhea, constipation, or nausea.  

  • Allergic Reactions: Certain medications or supplements can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, leading to itching, rashes, or swelling.

  • Drug Interactions: Alternative medicines can interact with medications used in conventional cancer treatment reducing the effectiveness of the medicine and creating reactions.

  • Fatigue: Mild tiredness can occur with certain medications or remedies.


It's critical to know that the side effects of cancer therapies depend on a myriad of factors in addition to the specific treatment. Consideration should also factor in the type of cancer, age, and health of the patient, and genetic factors. Patients should talk through the potential side effects of various treatments with their healthcare team to best mitigate the issues. At Dayspring Cancer Clinic, we individualize therapies for each patient to help minimize any possible side effects. Learn more by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Andrew Dickens by calling 480-699-7400 or registering at



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