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Chemotherapy Side Effects And What To Do About Them

Causes Of Side Effects From Chemotherapy

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© American Cancer Society 2010

Chemo drugs are made to kill fast-growing cells. Because these drugs travel throughout the body, chemo drugs can affect normal, healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Damage to healthy tissue causes side effects. Although side effects are not always as bad as you might expect, many people worry about this part of their cancer treatment.

The normal cells most likely to be affected are blood forming cells in the bone marrow; hair follicles; and cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and reproductive system. Some chemo drugs can damage cells in the heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system. In some cases, medicines called cytoprotective drugs may be given with the chemo to protect the body's normal cells. 

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