Treatment Side Effects

The most common cancer treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Cancer patients can receive one or a combination of those treatments, as well as others depending on the diagnosis. It's important to talk to your healthcare provider to find the treatment that is best for you, and how to deal with side effects from that treatment. The resources below can help you when it comes to dealing with your treatment.

Treatment Preparation and Information

Preparing for Treatment

Common Treatment Side Effects


Possible side effects of surgery include:

  • Scarring
  • Limited mobility
  • Inability to do some activities on a temporary or long-term basis
  • Changes in sexual function or fertility
  • Changes in ability to judge, learn or remember (such as after brain surgery)
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling or lymphedema


Possible side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Anemia
  • Decreased immunity
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Skin rashes
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Cataracts
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Forgetfullness

Radiation Therapy

Possible side effects of radiation therapy:

  • Hair loss and changes to hair
  • Earaches
  • Redness and irritation in the mouth
  • Dry mouth, trouble swallowing or changes in taste
  • Changes to teeth, gums, mouth or throat
  • Bone growth changes in children who are still developing
  • Dry, irritated or reddened skin
  • Nausea, vomiting or bowel changes
  • Eating and digestive problems
  • Irritation of the bladder
  • Effects on fertility or sexual functioning
  • Breast size changes
  • Lung fibrosis (stiffening or scarring)
  • Osteoporosis or bone loss
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Swelling and soreness
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • Low white blood cell counts or low levels of platelets (rare)
  • Emotional effects

Hormone Therapy