Treatment for lung cancer targets cancer cells, but it can also cause unwanted side effects, creating problems that affect healthy tissues or organs. The side effects from treatment for lung cancer depend on the specific treatment given, and side effects vary from person to person. Not everyone who gets the same treatment has the same reaction. Side effects experienced may also be influenced by the patient’s age, other health conditions, and the combination of treatments received.
Common side effects experienced by patients undergoing treatment for lung cancer include:
Hair loss, which can affect the hair on the scalp, face or body and may be complete or partial, potentially also resulting in thinning hair
Nausea or vomiting, which in addition to causing distress can lead to dehydration and weakness
Vision changes, including blurred vision, double vision, or increased sensitivity to light
Peripheral neuropathy, damage to the nerves that connect the brain to other parts of the body and may impact sensory information (possibly causing pain), the ability to control muscles, or other bodily functions
Kidney damage, a complication that interferes with the kidney’s ability to filter wastes from the blood and can result in urinary tract infections or imbalances of compounds in the blood1
Managing Side Effects from Lung Cancer Treatment
Many side effects can be managed, and some can be prevented. Communication between patients and their health care team is critical, and any side effects experienced should be brought to the attention of a doctor or nurse.
Side effects from lung cancer treatment are often temporary and tend to go away after treatment is completed. However, some side effects may last longer or be irreversible. Reducing the dosage, changing medications, or delaying treatment regimens can be potential options to help manage some side effects.
Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: January 2017.
National Cancer Institute. Accessed online on 10/30/16 at https://www.cancer.gov/.