Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatments

Your cancer treatment is over, but the treatments that may have saved your life may also continue to cause side effects.

As more people are living longer after cancer treatment, more is becoming known about late side effects of cancer treatment.

Find out all you can about late effects of cancer treatment, and use this information to help manage your health.

What are late effects of cancer treatment?

Late effects are side effects of cancer treatment that become apparent after your treatment has ended. Cancer survivors might experience late effects of cancer treatment years later.

What cancer treatments cause late effects?

Late effects of cancer treatment can come from any of the main types of cancer treatment: chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, surgery, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. As newer types of cancer treatment are developed, such as immunotherapy, doctors may find that these treatments also cause late effects in cancer survivors.

Treatment:
Chemotherapy

Late effects:
Dental problems
Early menopause
Hearing loss
Heart problems
Increased risk of other cancers
Infertility
Loss of taste
Lung disease
Nerve damage
Osteoporosis
Reduced lung capacity

Treatment:
Radiation therapy

Late effects:
Cavities and tooth decay
Early menopause
Heart and vascular problems
Hypothyroidism
Increased risk of other cancers
Increased risk of stroke
Infertility
Intestinal problems
Lung disease
Lymphedema
Memory problems
Osteoporosis

Treatment:
Surgery

Late effects:
Lymphedema

Treatment:
Hormone therapy

Late effects:
Blood clots
Hot flashes (in men as well as in women)
Increased risk of other cancers
Menopausal symptoms
Osteoporosis
Sexual side effects (men and women)

Keep in mind that not everyone who has cancer treatment gets each of the late effects, and some people might not experience any late effects of treatment.

Different chemotherapy drugs cause different late effects. So if you didn't take the chemotherapy drugs that can cause infertility, then you aren't believed to be at risk of that particular late effect.

Late effects of radiation and surgery will affect only the area of the body exposed to them. So, for example, if you had radiation to a part of your body other than your head or neck, then you won't be at risk of cavities and tooth decay as a result of your radiation therapy.

Source: Mayo Clinic


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