Cancer has proved to be one of the most fatal diseases which has no complete cure. It can only be treated to a certain stage after which there is no way out of it. One of the most effective ways of treating cancer is antineoplastic therapy or as it is commonly known, chemotherapy. This therapy consists of antineoplastic drugs which are given either in the form of pills or in the form of injections. These drugs kill the rapidly growing cells through radiations and stop the cancerous cells from growing inside the body. Though this therapy is very commonly used for treating cancer, it has many side effects. There are many antineoplastic therapy side effects which are harsh but are a part of the treatment.

Side Effects of Antineoplastic Therapy

There are more than 50 antineoplastic agents which are used in antineplastic therapy. Doxorubicin, paclitaxel, methotrexate, fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide are some of the commonly used antineoplastic agents. These agents attack the rapidly growing cells of the body and kill them. But they cannot distinguish between the cancerous cells and healthy cells hence they kill all the cells which show rapid growth. This leads to various antineoplastic agents side effects. Following are some of them.

Blood Problems
Our blood consists of three components: red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets. RBCs carry oxygen to different parts of the body, WBCs are a part of body's immune system and platelets help to stop bleeding. Bone marrow is responsible for the production of blood cells. Chemotherapy drugs hinder the production of blood cells and kill the healthy blood cells. This results in the low blood cells. This may cause anemia, low immunity and many other problems.

Gastrointestinal Problems
There are many gastrointestinal problems which may appear as a side effect of antineoplastic therapy. Nausea and vomiting are very common as chemotherapy drugs trigger the release of serotonin in the stomach which may result in vomiting. Apart from this, antineoplastic drugs also damage the digestive tract which may result in diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, etc. It may also cause mouth sores and may decrease the sensitivity of the taste buds.

Hair Loss
Hair follicles are one of the most rapidly growing cells and hence they also become a victim of chemotherapy drugs. They attack hair follicles and destroy them. Hence the person will observe excessive hair loss two to three weeks after the therapy starts. The hair loss is temporary and the hair will start growing in two to three months after the therapy is over.

Heart Problems
One of the most dangerous chemotherapy side effects is the inefficiency of the heart in pumping blood to the body. The heart is damaged by the chemotherapy drugs. This is known as cardiotoxicity. This may further lead to heart failure or may require a heart transplantation.

As we know that the chemotherapy drugs attack the rapidly growing cells, T-cells are also one of them which become the victim of this treatment. T-cells protect our body from various diseases and infections and help our body to remain fit and healthy. During this cancer treatment T-cells are destroyed which result in low immune power. This makes the body susceptible to many dangerous diseases and infections.

Psychological Distress
Chemotherapy sessions cause a lot of side effects which may cause pain and also affect the physical appearance. This may lead to depression, stress, anxiety and many other psychological problems. These problems can be overcome with the help of love and support of the patients dear ones.

Sexual Side Effects
Antineoplastic drugs affect the sexual ability of men as well as women. In men, it may cause low libido, difficulty in getting erection and orgasm whereas in women it may result in dry and itchy vagina, irregular periods, hot flashes, decreased interest in sex, hot flashes etc. Contraceptives and condoms should be used if any of the partner is undergoing chemotherapy session as it may cause birth defects.

Other Side Effects
Memory loss, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, dry skin and rashes, bone loss, peripheral edema, yellow and cracked nails, etc. are some of the other side effects of antineoplastic therapy.

These were some of the side effects of antineoplastic therapy or chemotherapy. Usually, these side effect disappear after sometime, but if the conditions becomes critical, additional medical assistance becomes necessary. Though antineoplastic therapy has a huge list of side effects, it is one of the most effective treatments for cancer. Hence, you can just try to minimize its effects with the help of a healthy diet, regular exercise, proper medication and following your doctor's advice.