About side effects

The side effects you might have vary from person to person. It also depends 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 won’t get all the side effects listed for a particular drug. You might get one or a few side effects. Or you might get only very mild side effects. It is not possible to say beforehand:

  • whether you will have a particular side effect
  • when the effect will start or stop
  • 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

Many side effects are inconvenient or upsetting but are not harmful to your health. But some side effects are serious medical conditions. You might need treatment for them.

Discuss your side effects with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Sometimes there are ways to reduce side effects.

Most side effects don't do any lasting harm. They gradually go away after your treatment finishes. Do not wait to contact your specialist nurse or doctor if you are worried about a side effect.

How well your treatment works does not depend on the amount of side effects you’re having. So, if you have only minor side effects, your treatment works as well as someone with many side effects.

Reporting side effects

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and patients can report any side effects of drugs. They report it to the government's drug safety watchdog. The organisation is called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA ).

Yellow Card Scheme

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

Contact your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you are worried about side effects from any drugs you are taking or have recently been taking.

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