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Potential Side Effects from Chemotherapy for Primary Bone Cancer

The side effects of chemotherapy are different for everyone. They depend on these things:

  • The type of drugs you’re taking

  • How often you take them

  • How long your treatment lasts

Some chemotherapy drugs can irritate the small veins in your hands and forearm. Here are some other typical side effects for the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for bone cancer. You should talk with your health care team about which ones are most likely to happen for you:

  • Appetite loss

  • Bleeding or bruising after small cuts or injuries from low platelet counts called thrombocytopenia

  • Breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath

  • Fever

  • Hair loss (the hair should grow back after treatment ends)

  • Increased chance of infection from low white blood cell counts called neutropenia

  • Mouth sores

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Tiredness (fatigue)

Usually blood counts drop seven to 14 days after a chemotherapy cycle (session). This is called your nadir. Everyone is a little bit different, but you will begin to know your pattern. You will likely know when your blood counts drop based on your symptoms.

These side effects will most likely go away during rest periods between treatments and after your treatment ends. Ask your doctor for ways to ease these side effects. For instance, there are drugs that ease nausea and vomiting, and others to help increase your white and red blood cell counts.

Signs of Infection

Make sure you ask which signs, if any, require that you call your doctor right away. For instance, chemotherapy can make you more likely to get infections. Call your doctor if you have any of these signs of infection:

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Chills

  • Redness, swelling, or warmth at the site of an injury or at the operative site

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nasal congestion

  • Burning during urination

Other possible side effects

Some chemotherapy drugs used to treat bone cancer can cause other, less common side effects. For example:

  • Ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide can damage the bladder, which may lead to blood in the urine. Your doctor may give a second drug to help prevent this. Drinking plenty of fluids can also help.  

  • Doxorubicin can damage the heart muscle over time, so your doctor may occasionally do tests to check your heart function.

  • Cisplatin can have a number of effects, including kidney damage, hearing loss, and numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.  


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