Help your child cope with side effects of cancer treatment

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 do 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.

What are the most 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.

Not every child or young person 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.

Where can I turn to for more help?

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.

You might also like to read

Day to day support

Our social workers and play specialists help with the everyday challenges cancer brings.

Read more about Day to day support

Is a clinical trial right for my child?

What a clinical trial means for your child and how research can improve care for other children in the future.

Read more about Is a clinical trial right for my child?
A child with cancer sits on a hospital bed with his parents in the background

Helping your child go back to school after treatment

What you and the school should know before your child returns after cancer treatment.

Read more about Helping your child go back to school after treatment
A child who has had cancer makes his way to school