What are the possible side-effects of treatment?

Because cancer treatment may damage healthy cells and tissues, unwanted side-effects of treatment may also occur. These side effects depend on many factors, including the type and extent of the proposed treatment. Side effects may not be the same for each person, and they may even change from one treatment session to the next. Your specialist pancreatic team will be able to explain possible side effects and how they can be controlled.

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type of drug used, the dose and tolerance vary from patient to patient. Patients who undergo chemotherapy may complain of tiredness, and as chemotherapy affects rapidly dividing cells, patients may lose their hair and may have other side effects such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, or mouth sores. Usually, these side effects go away gradually during the recovery periods between treatments or after treatment is over.

Radiation therapy may cause patients to become very tired as treatment continues. Rest is important, but doctors usually advise patients to try to stay as active as possible. In addition, when patients receive radiation therapy, the skin in the treated area may sometimes become red, dry, and tender. Radiation therapy to the abdomen may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other problems with digestion. The health care team can offer medicine or suggest diet changes to control these problems. For most patients, the side effects of radiation therapy go away when treatment is over.

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