© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
Cancer and its treatment can cause a variety of side effects. However, doctors have made major strides in recent years in reducing pain, nausea and vomiting, infection, fatigue, and other physical side effects of cancer treatments. Many treatments used today are less intensive but as effective as treatments used in the past. Doctors also have many ways to provide relief to patients when such side effects do occur.
Fear of treatment side effects is common after a diagnosis of cancer, but it may be helpful to know that preventing and controlling side effects is a major focus of your health-care team. Before treatment begins, talk with your doctor about possible side effects of the specific treatments you will be receiving. The specific side effects that can occur depend on a variety of factors, including the type of cancer, its location, the individual treatment plan (including the length and dosage of treatment), and the person's overall health.
Ask your doctor which side effects are most likely to happen (and which are not), which need to be reported right away, when side effects are likely to occur, and how they will be addressed by the health care team if they do happen. Also, be sure to communicate with the doctor and nurses about side effects you experience during and after treatment. Learn more about the most common side effects of cancer and different treatments, along with ways to prevent or control them
In addition to physical side effects, you may experience psychosocial (emotional and social) effects and sexual health concerns. Learn more about the importance of addressing such needs, including concerns about managing the cost of your cancer care.
For more information on late effects or long-term side effects, please read the After Treatment section or talk with your doctor.