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How Long Do Chemotherapy Side Effects Last?

Normal cells usually recover when chemotherapy is over, so most side effects gradually go away after the treatment ends and the healthy cells have a chance to grow normally. The time it takes to get over side effects depends on many things, including your overall health and the kind of chemotherapy you have been taking.
Most people have no serious, long-term problems. However, on some occasions, chemotherapy can cause permanent changes or damage to the:
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Nerves
  • Kidneys
  • Reproductive system
  • Other organs.
Also, certain types of chemotherapy may have delayed effects, such as a second cancer that shows up many years later. Ask your doctor about the chances of any serious, long-term side effects that can result from the treatment you are receiving, but remember to balance your concerns with the immediate threat of your cancer.

Final Thoughts on Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Great progress has been made in preventing and treating some of chemotherapy's common and serious side effects. Many new drugs and treatment methods destroy cancer more effectively while doing less harm to the body's healthy cells.
The chemotherapy side effects can be unpleasant, but they must be measured against the treatment's ability to destroy the cancer. Medicines can help prevent some side effects, such as nausea. Sometimes people receiving chemotherapy become discouraged about the length of time their treatment is taking or the side effects they are having. If that happens to you, talk with your healthcare provider or nurse. They may be able to suggest ways to make the side effects easier to deal with, or may recommend ways to reduce them.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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