Side Effects

Coping with Side Effects

Each person’s experience of treatment is different. Please talk with your nurse and doctor about your specific concerns. We offer self-care suggestions plus information about which symptoms need immediate attention. Most patients experience some, but not all, of these symptoms.

Nausea & Vomiting

Many patients experience nausea and vomiting at some time during treatment. There are many ways to help control and treat these side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.


Fatigue is an unusual whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. During cancer treatment fatigue can be caused by intensive treatments, medications, low levels of circulating red blood cells, and side effects. Learn what you can do at home to help.


Most pain can be treated with medication, treatments such as physical therapy, or both. Your health care team will work with you to control your pain. There are many things you can do at home to help.

Memory and Concentration Problems

Changes in memory and concentration are common throughout treatment. In most cases, the changes are temporary. Your memory and concentration will improve after treatment is complete and you start feeling better. Until then, we have tips to help.


It is normal to feel anxious when facing a life-threatening illness and intensive treatment. But, there are things that may help decrease these feelings.

Body-Image Changes

Cancer treatment can affect your body and your life in ways that are hard on your self-esteem. The first step in coping is to direct your energy and thoughts toward what you can and will do for yourself.

Sexuality Self Care

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can cause physical and emotional changes that may affect your sexuality and intimate relationships. There’s much you and your health care team can do to lessen this common side effect of cancer treatment.

Suggestions for Managing Care at Home

An important part of your care during cancer treatment is care you get at home from yourself, your family, and caregiver. These tips were developed by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance patients and staff to help.