Side Effects of Cancer

Physical Changes

Cancer or its treatments can change the body, so many patients experience one or more of these effects:

  • fatigue – perhaps the most common and persistent side effect of treatment
  • hair loss
  • weight loss or gain
  • appetite loss or gain
  • taste or smell alterations
  • changes in skin color
  • scars (after breast surgery, for example)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sleep problems
  • poor concentration

Emotional Changes

People react to cancer differently, but almost everyone feels one or more of these emotions:

  • uncertainty
  • anger
  • lack of control
  • sadness
  • fear
  • frustration
  • guilt
  • resentment
  • more intense feelings and mood swings
  • loneliness
On the positive side, some cancer patients experience
  • greater sense of resilience or strength
  • peace
  • clearer priorities
  • greater appreciation of their life and people around them
Cancer patients and those who love them will have good days and bad days. Yet most people gradually adjust and resume their lives. Personal coping styles vary greatly, and the patient’s wishes should be honored whenever possible.

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