Coping with side effects

The main treatments for cancer include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Other treatments, such as hormone therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, can also be used for some types of cancer. You may experience side effects from these treatments that make it challenging to do your job.

This section includes tips for managing some common side effects. The Understanding Chemotherapy, Understanding Radiation Therapy and Overcoming Cancer Pain booklets have more tips and information about specific side effects, and you can download these booklets from this page.

It can take time to get over the side effects of treatment, and making adjustments to your work schedule and environment may make things easier. If your side effects stop you from working, your doctor may be able to change your treatment or prescribe some medicine to help you feel better.

Always consult your doctor about possible side effects of medicines. Some drugs can cause drowsiness and make it hard to think clearly or operate heavy machinery.

Complementary therapies, including meditation, yoga, massage or acupuncture, may improve the side effects of treatment. See Cancer Council’s Understanding Complementary Therapies booklet for information about these therapies.

Side effects can be physical and emotional. Feeling low or depressed during or after treatment is common. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling down. Visit beyondblue for resources to help with managing depression or anxiety, or contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 for a copy of the Emotions and Cancer booklet.

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This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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