Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Chapter 12: Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

— Albert Camus

CHEMOTHERAPY DRUGS INTERFERE with tumor cells’ ability to grow and reproduce. Because tumor cells divide frequently, they are more susceptible to chemotherapy drugs than most normal cells. Unfortunately, normal, healthy cells that multiply rapidly can also be damaged by chemotherapy. These normal cells include those of the brain, bone marrow, mouth, stomach, intestines, hair follicles, and skin.

This chapter explains the most common side effects of chemotherapy drugs and explores ways to deal with them effectively. It also covers questions about owning pets when your child is receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy side effects that prevent good nutrition are discussed in Chapter 20, Nutrition. Side effects are listed in alphabetical order below.