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Long Term Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Posted 10/13/2015

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  This is not anyone's favorite topic. Although we may think about the possible medium and long term side effects of cancer treatment at the time, we usually are much more focused on getting rid of the cancer, trying to stay healthy and live a long life, and the unpleasant side effects that may accompany the treatment. We think much less about what may happen in the future. It is good news, of course, to stay well long enough to consider these possibilities, but this is not a cheering subject

  There are the smaller issues like changed bodies (missing a breast or another body part), reduced energy that may never fuller recover, hair that may be forever different, eye lashes that don't regain their previous length or thickness. There are the the medium issues like changed sexuality, and then there are the biggies. 

  This article from ASCO's Cancer Net is a comprehensive list. It is important to know about the possibilities. Remember that everyone is different and most certainly many people don't experience any long-term problems, but you are your own best advocate and must be informed

.Long-Term Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

A late effect is a side effect that occurs months or years after cancer treatment. Many people who have received treatment for cancer have a risk of developing long-term side effects. In fact, evaluating and treatment of late effects is an important part of survivorship care. 

Types of late effects
Nearly any type of treatment can cause late effects, and these are specific to the treatment you received. Some of the more common late effects are described below. If you are concerned about a particular late effect, please talk with your doctor

Problems from surgery.
Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma, especially those diagnosed before 1988, often had their spleens removed. These people have a higher risk of serious infections because of the spleen’s role in the body’s immune system.
Survivors of cancers of the bone and soft tissue may experience physical and psychological effects from losing all or part of a limb, such as phantom limb pain. This is feeling pain in the area of the limb that was removed. Learn more about rehabilitation, which can help people cope with physical changes from surgery.
People who had surgery to remove lymph nodes or radiation therapy to lymph nodes may develop lymphedema. Lymph nodes are the tiny, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. When lymph fluid builds up and causes swelling and pain, it is called lymphedema.
Men and women who had lymph nodes removed in the pelvis or abdomen may not be able to have children. This is called infertility.
Learn more about fertility concerns and preserving fertility in men and in women.

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