What are the side effects of chemotherapy in the treatment of bone cancer?

Chemotherapy often involves severe side-effects that range from negligible to severe depending on the dosage. Some adverse effects of chemotherapy that occur are in the treatment of bone cancer

1. Nausea

Antiemetic drugs help against symptoms of vomiting. Ginger or ginger supplements catalyst the effectiveness of antiemetics.

2. Alopecia or hair loss

Hair may start to thin or fall out and the patient might suffer from distress. Doctor may advise counselling in such cases. A cold cap is used to keep the scalp cool while the dose is administered. Wigs can be obtained until hair is recovered.

3. Fatigue

Fatigue as a common side-effect may be present while performing certain activities or most of the time. Plenty of rest is advised. Over-exhaustion must be reported to the doctor as it might be a symptom of anaemia as a result of a drop in red blood cell count.

4. Hearing impairment

Toxic effects of chemo drugs may result in temporal or permanent loss of hearing.

5. Low white blood cell count and decreased immunity

The drop down in white blood cell count may lead to dysfunction in the immune system, making the patient susceptible to infections and other ailments. This is called neutropenia. Antibiotic help reduce these effects. Precautions like personal hygiene, staying away from those with communicable diseases, food intake, and keeping skin wounds dressed are important.

6. Low platelet count and bleeding issues

A decrease in blood platelet count is called thrombocytopenia which leads to blood clotting problems. This can further lead to nosebleeds, bleeding of gums and profuse bleeding from skin wounds and call for urgent blood transfusions. Precautions like avoiding the use of razors, using a soft toothbrush and wearing gloves or mittens while at working the kitchen or garden.

7. Low red blood cell count and anaemia

A drop in red blood cell count may lead to anaemia. Symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Erythropoietin (EPO) helps to increase the rate at which red blood cells are produced. Food sources rich in iron like apricots, prunes, dry fruits, ve need to be incorporated in the daily diet.

8. Mucositis

Inflammation of the mucous membrane is possible anywhere along the digestive tract like the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum or the anus. Newer chemo drugs reduce the risk of mucositis. Mouth ulcers may disrupt dietary habits. Caphosol is prescribed to counter mucositis. Symptoms do not linger after treatment is ended.

9. Bowel issues

Diarrhoea can be a result of sudden expulsion of body cells. Constipation is also possible.

10. Loss of appetite

Chemotherapy may affect one’s appetite, metabolism and eating habits. Regular intake of nourishment is important. For patients who cannot consume food orally a nasogastric tube delivers food to the stomach directly through the nose.

11. Pregnancy and issues with fertility

Loss of libido is another side-effect of chemotherapy. Chemo drugs may cause congenital defects and having a child must be put on hold. Barrier birth control methods must be used as oral birth control drugs may negatively impact chemotherapy.

12. Cognitive health issues

The distress of having to cope with chemo might affect the patient’s attention, memory, moods, thinking and mental capabilities. This may take several months to recover from with consistent emotional and psychological support from family and loved ones.

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