Side Effects Of Cancer Treatment

Treatment for cancer often causes a host of unwelcome side effects, some of which are short-lived but others which are long lasting or even permanent. These problems can not only be unpleasant to cope with but can even be life changing. Cancer Research UK lists numerous potential side effects which many patients experience as a result of the drugs or treatments that they receive, affecting almost every part of the body from the eyes and mouth to the kidneys, heart and liver, and even when the symptoms experienced are only temporary, they are no less distressing and difficult to live with.

Temporary Side Effects

There are numerous side effects of cancer treatment which occur during and immediately following treatment. Despite the fact that these symptoms won’t last forever, they are no easier to live with and can make life extremely unpleasant while they are ongoing. They include:

  • Anaemia
  • Appetite loss
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Oedema
  • Hair loss
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Nail and skin changes

Long Lasting And Permanent Side Effects

Although the temporary side effects of cancer treatment can be unpleasant, they eventually go away once treatment is finished. Unfortunately, there are several side effects of cancer treatment which are long lasting, and which may never go away at all.

McMillan Cancer Support lists some of the permanent risks which are linked to receiving chemotherapy including an increased risk of developing a second cancer in the future and a greater chance of developing lung and heart conditions later in life. As these illnesses may arise many years after treatment has ceased, it can mean a lifetime of worry and regular hospital check-ups.

Fertility And Sexual Function Problems

Some of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment involve the effect on the patient’s fertility and sexual function. WebMD points out that receiving radiotherapy as a cancer treatment can result in permanent infertility in both men and women, which can be extremely distressing to any young patient who was hoping to start a family in the future.

In men, chemotherapy and endocrine therapy can damage the sperm while surgery to treat cancers in the pelvis can damage the nerves, lymph nodes and organs resulting in infertility or loss of sexual function.

Women who have chemotherapy can experience permanent damage to their ovaries, putting them into an early irreversible menopause, while radiation therapy in the pelvic, spinal or abdominal areas can damage the reproductive organs. If a woman has surgery to treat pelvic and reproductive system cancers, the tissues and organs in that area can be scarred affecting fertility and resulting in pain during sex.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage which can be incurred to the body’s peripheral nerves can result in peripheral neuropathy affecting  the autonomic, motor or sensory nerves. The effects can include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Inability to feel cold and hot sensation
  • Inability to experience pain
  • Aching and weakness in the muscles causing poor balance
  • Twitching, cramping and wastage in the muscles
  • Difficulties in breathing or swallowing
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Faintness and dizziness because of low blood pressure
  • Sexual function problems such as inability to achieve orgasm or to get an erection
  • Sweating problems
  • Urination problems

Peripheral neuropathy can be long lasting or even permanent and can be extremely painful and distressing.

Long Term Bladder Problems

Men who have had surgery to treat prostate or bladder cancer may find that they develop long term urinary problems which result in leakage and incontinence. Women who have had a hysterectomy or surgery on their cervix may also find that they suffer from distressing incontinence issues. Chemotherapy and some types of immunotherapy may also damage the cells in the bladder resulting in urinary difficulties. Clearly these types of problems can be extremely embarrassing and distressing.

Receiving treatment for cancer can result in long term mental health problems, with a third of all patients experiencing anxiety or depression before, during and after treatment according to The Mental Health Foundation. While these are worrying statistics, they are even more serious in the case of someone who has been treated for a cancer that was misdiagnosed.

the side effects of cancer treatments are unpleasant enough in a life saving context, when someone has gone through that painful treatment unnecessarily and may have long lasting and permanent consequences of that unnecessary treatment, they deserve to receive significant compensation for their suffering.

If you have been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, contact us today and find out how we can help you to get the compensation that you deserve.