Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Chapter 14: Common Side Effects of Treatment

“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”

— Albert Camus

CHEMOTHERAPY DRUGS AND RADIATION THERAPY INTERFERE with cancer cells’ ability to grow and reproduce. Because cancer cells divide frequently, they are more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation than most normal cells. Unfortunately, healthy cells that multiply rapidly can also be damaged by chemotherapy and radiation. 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 treatment for childhood leukemia and explores ways to deal with them. It also covers different types of rehabilitation services and questions about owning pets when your child is receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy side effects that prevent good nutrition are discussed in Chapter 22, Nutrition. The most common side effects of treatment are listed in alphabetical order below.