What to Expect After Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer

Ask your oncologist and chemotherapy nurse for the details on each drug’s side effects. Side effects are different for everyone and vary based on the drugs you take.

Side effects may be short-term called acute. Or they may be ongoing called chronic. Ask your doctor which are most likely for you based on the drugs you’re taking. Here are some acute side effects you may have:

  • Appetite changes, including a decrease in or complete loss of appetite

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss

  • Nausea

  • Numbness and tingling of hands, feet, or both

  • Skin changes

  • Sores in your mouth or throat

  • Vomiting

It’s likely that your doctor will take blood samples from you often during the period of time you are getting chemotherapy to make sure your blood counts are not too low. Make sure you ask your doctor what signs, if any, mean you should call your him or her immediately. You can have a lowered number of white blood cells known as neutrophils. This is called neutropenia. Or you can have a lowered red blood cell count called anemia. Or you can have a lowered platelet count called thrombocytopenia.

Signs of neutropenia

White blood cells called neutrophils help fight infection. So a lowered neutrophil count can make you more prone to infections. You should call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Shaking chills

  • Redness, swelling, and warmth at the site of an injury

  • New cough or shortness of breath

  • Burning during urination

Signs of anemia

Red blood cells carry oxygen to your cells and remove waste products from the cells. A lowered red blood cell count can cause these symptoms:

  • Fatigue, especially with exertion

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Ringing in your ears

  • Weak feeling

Signs of thrombocytopenia

 Platelets help stop bleeding by forming blood clots. A lowered platelet count can cause these symptoms:

  • Bruising easily

  • Tiny red or purple spots on your skin

  • Bleeding gums

  • Prolonged bleeding from a cut

  • Black or bloody stool

  • Brown or red urine

  • Increased vaginal bleeding