Side effects

Every child's experience of treatment is different. For some, it's fairly smooth sailing while for others, the side effects can be really tough. Remember that most side effects are only temporary and you should get plenty of help to reduce or control them. 

Why side effects happen

Whatever type of treatment your child is having, the main aim will be to rid their body of cancer. However, although treatments target cancer cells, they can affect other healthy cells that divide and reproduce quickly. These can include cells found in the stomach, skin, mouth, hair and bone marrow.

Common side effects

It depends on the type of treatment but common side effects include hair loss, increased risk of infection, changes to your child’s weight, tiredness, problems with concentration and thinking, and issues with eating and digestion. 

Keep in mind that not everyone will experience all the side effects listed – and some people may not experience any at all. If your child doesn't experience the side effects, this doesn't mean that their treatment isn't working. Read more about: 

What support you can expect

If your child is having problems because of their treatment, always ask the team at the hospital for help. While the side effects of cancer treatment can be worrying and difficult to deal with, it is important to remember that most of them are only short-term and will gradually disappear once your child's treatment is complete.

Your child’s medical team may give them medication before the side effects make themselves felt. But if your child is struggling with side effects at any point, don’t hesitate to tell their doctor or nurse right away so they can respond quickly.

Updated November 2017, next review due 2019.