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The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

Possible Chemotherapy Side Effects

While high doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy can potentially affect any of the bodys normal cells or organs, the more common side effects may include the following:

Reduced production of blood cells and platelets

High-dose chemotherapy directly destroys the bone marrow's ability to produce white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Some patients experience side effects from low numbers of white blood cells (neutropenia), red blood cells (anemia) and platelets (thrombocytopenia).

Infections from Chemotherapy

The immune system may take even longer to recover than white blood cell production, which can result in a susceptibility to some bacterial, fungal and viral infections for weeks or months, including pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and herpes zoster infection, which commonly occurs after high-dose chemotherapy.

Liver Damage: Veno-Occlusive Disease of the Liver (VOD)

High-dose chemotherapy can result in damage to the liver, which can be serious and even fatal. This complication is increased in patients who have had previous chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, a history of liver damage or hepatitis. Veno-occlusive disease of the liver typically occurs in the first two weeks after high-dose chemotherapy treatment. Patients typically experience symptoms of abdominal fullness or swelling, liver tenderness and weight gain from fluid retention. Development of strategies to prevent or treat veno-occlusive disease is an active area of clinical investigation.

Lung Damage: Interstitial Pneumonia Syndrome (IPS)

High-dose chemotherapy can cause damage directly to the cells of the lungs. This may be more frequent in patients treated with certain types of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. This complication may occur anytime from a few days after high-dose chemotherapy to several months after treatment. Patients typically experience a dry, non-productive cough or shortness of breath. Sometimes, patients and their doctors often misinterpret these early symptoms. Patients experiencing shortness of breath or a new cough after allogeneic transplant should bring this to the immediate attention of their doctors since this can be a serious and even fatal complication.

General Chemotherapy Side Effects Information
The type and the severity of the side effects from chemotherapy or radiation may vary depending on the specific chemotherapy or radiation treatment regimen used. The effects can be further influenced by the condition and age of the patient.