Side Effects of Chemotherapy & Biotherapy

Experiencing side effects

The side effects you may experience from your chemotherapy treatment will depend on many factors, such as the drug or combination of drugs, the dose you have been given and how you as an individual tolerate the treatment.

It is important to remember that everyone is different so possible side effects, including their severity, will vary from person to person even though the treatment regimen may be the same.

Effects of chemotherapy on healthy cells

As chemotherapy is a systemic treatment side effects are not limited to the site of your cancer. Other healthy cells that are dividing can be damaged by chemotherapy. Most commonly the cells that divide more often (such as the cells in hair follicles that produce new hairs, or cells in the lining of your stomach) tend to be affected more than cells that divide less frequently. Healthy cells damaged by chemotherapy, however, are able to recover better than cancer cells so most side effects are for a short time afterward.

Side effects from Biotherapy

The side effects from biotherapy or targeted agents can be different to traditional chemotherapy as the drug targets a very particular part of a cell or pathway.

Concerns you may have

Your treatment team will provide you with written information on each drug you will receive and the potential side effects that may be experienced with each one.

If you are concerned about any of the side effects you are experiencing you should contact us (24 hours) on:

  • 03 364 0020 and speak with a nurse.

The Cancer Society Website has information about possible side effects which may be of use to you.

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Page last reviewed: 08 April 2015
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