Coping with side effects
It can take time to recover from the side effects of treatment. Side effects can be both physical and emotional. They can vary depending on the cancer type and stage, and the treatment you had.
Some side effects go away quickly; others can take weeks, months or even years to improve. Some may be permanent. Your body will cope with the treatment and recovery in its own way. It is important not to compare yourself to others.
Some people experience late side effects. These are problems that develop months or years after treatment finishes. They may result from scarring to parts of the body or damage to internal organs. Talk to your doctor about whether you are at risk of developing late effects from your treatment. If you are concerned about a new symptom, talk to your doctor.
|If you have a chronic medical condition following cancer treatment, talk to your GP about developing a Chronic Disease Management Plan or Team Care Arrangement to help you manage the condition.|
Learn more about common side effects and ways to cope with them:
- Feeling very tired (fatigue)
- Sleeping difficulties
- Numbness or tingling in feet or hands (peripheral neuropathy)
- Persistent swelling (lymphoedema)
- Forgetfulness or memory problems (chemo or cancer brain)
- Changes in bladder or bowel functioning
- Heart problems
- Mouth or teeth problems
- Bone density loss (osteoporosis)
- Joint pain
- Problems with eating or drinking
- Changed body image, g. hair loss, weight loss or gain
- Changes in sexuality and sexual function
- Menopausal symptoms for women
Listen to our podcast series The Thing About Cancer, which covers many of the above side effects
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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