Because of its unpleasant side-effects, "chemo" has had a bad press. However, while it would be misleading to suggest that this treatment is in any sense subtle – the drugs are potent poisons – it is becoming more sophisticated. Side-effects are being reduced while the ability of doctors to treat them when they do appear is improving.
Typical side-effects are hair loss, sickness, tiredness and damage to bone marrow, all of which can be treated to some extent. Fertility may also be affected and in some cases men will be offered the opportunity to store sperm.
Not all patients will respond to chemotherapy, and as none of these side-effects are trivial you will want to ask your doctor exactly what the benefits are likely to be and at what price. Generally, patients with treatable cancers consider the side-effects preferable to the untreated disease.
Page created on February 28th, 2010
Page updated on March 11th, 2010