Side Effects of Chemotherapy For Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy is a treatment that use drugs to treat cancer. Depending on the type of drugs used, stage of cancer, tolerance levels and the general health of the patient, the side effects vary from individual to individual. The most common side effects of chemotherapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer are:

Picture of a 3D model of a pancreas

  • Change in taste:

Chemotherapeutic drugs can cause change in taste. During and after treatment, food can taste bland or metallic.

  • Constipation:

The medication can cause constipation and pain. The change in diet during and after treatment can be another reason for constipation.

  • Diarrhea:

Chemotherapeutic drugs prescribed for pancreatic cancer affects the cells that line the intestines. This causes a disturbance in the stomach and leads to diarrhea.

  • Nausea and Vomiting:

During and after chemotherapy, patients experience dizziness because of the drugs. The disturbances caused by the drugs in the stomach can cause vomiting.

  • Fatigue:

Chemotherapeutic drugs can cause a lot of weakness and feeling of tiredness during and after treatment.

  • Skin problems:

Peeling and dryness of skin is a common side effect of these drugs. Redness and rashes are also caused. Some patients also experience itching of skin during the treatment.

  • Hair loss:

Chemotherapeutic drugs leads to severe hair loss due to the way they affect the body. The severity in the damage of the hair follicles depends on the dosage of chemotherapy and the drugs prescribed to the patient. Hair loss can start to occur in the first two weeks of the first cycle itself. The hair fall often occurs in clumps. In most cases, the hair growth will resume post treatment.

  • Lowered White Blood Cell Count:

These drugs can kill the healthy white blood cells which makes the person prone to infections as the immunity of the body decreases.

  • Lowered Red Blood Cell Count:

Less number of red blood cells can lead to anemia, which can last after the treatment also, the symptoms of this can be dizziness, fatigue, feeling light headed etc.

  • Lowered Blood Platelet Count:

Less number of platelets can cause difficulty in blood clotting. It also leads to easy bleeding and bruising.

  • Effect on kidneys:

Chemotherapeutic drugs for treating pancreatic cancer can have a major impact on the kidneys, causing disturbances in filtration of waste and can lead to renal failure.

  • Loss of appetite:

The drugs change the appetite of the patient. They lose their normal appetite and consumption of food decreases.

  • Nail changes:

Some chemotherapeutic drugs can cause inflammation in the nail area.

  • Mouth sores:

Mouth sores on the tongue,lips, gums or in the throat can make it difficult to chew and swallow. This condition is called Mucositis. Oral mucositis is a common complication of chemotherapy. It generally begins a week after the initiation of the treatment and lasts upto 14 days. Chemotherapeutic drugs can also cause dry mouth and lips.

  • Neuropathy:

Neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapeutic drugs. It a condition that causes tingling and numbness.

  • Heart problems:

Chemotherapeutic drugs can cause abnormalities in the heart rhythm and the blood pressure of the body. This leads to heart problems like expansion of arteries, blocks in the heart and in worst cases, a heart attack.

  • Menstruation problems:

Women on chemotherapeutic drugs for pancreatic cancer experience irregular periods and abnormal bleeding.

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