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About side effects

The side effects you might have vary from person to person and depend on the cancer drugs you are having.

Different drugs have different side effects

Not all cancer drugs cause hair loss or sickness for example. And the side effects of each drug vary for different people.

You might get only very mild side effects. You might get one or a few side effects of a particular drug. It is not possible to say beforehand whether you will have a particular side effect, when the effect will start or stop, or how bad it will be for you.

Side effects depend on many factors including:

  • which drugs you are having
  • how long you have been taking the drug
  • your general health
  • the dose (amount of drug)
  • the way you have the drug (for example, as a tablet or injection)
  • other drugs or cancer treatments that you are having

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to write down the names of your drugs so that you can look each one up.

Important to know about side effects

  • Some side effects are serious medical conditions that need to be treated.
  • Many side effects are inconvenient or upsetting but are not harmful to your health.
  • Discuss your side effects with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist – often they can be reduced.
  • Phone your cancer hospital and speak to a cancer specialist doctor or nurse urgently if you are worried about a side effect.
  • Most side effects don't do any lasting harm and will gradually go away after your treatment finishes.
  • If you don't get side effects, it doesn't mean that your treatment isn't working.

Reporting side effects

There is a system in place that allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists and patients to report any side effects of drugs to the government's drug safety watchdog. The safety organisation is called the MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).

The safety system is called the Yellow Card Scheme. This scheme helps to monitor drug safety by collecting information about new or suspected side effects or drug reactions.

Remember, it is important to contact your doctor if you are worried about side effects from any drugs you are taking or have recently been taking.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.