Physical Symptoms and Side Effects

This module deals with some of the cancer-treatment side effects that you may experience. Just remember that every person is different, as is the treatment they receive, so the side effects that occur for someone you know may not happen to you. You may experience a range of side effects or you may experience very few, however we feel that it is important for you to be aware of what may happen so you can prepare yourself for it.

This ‘list’ of side effects is not exhaustive but instead covers some of the more commonly reported symptoms. The following symptoms are covered:


  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Pain
  • Thinking, attention and concentration difficulties
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nutrition problems, e.g. loss of appetite and taste sensation changes
  • Lymphoedema


Individuals diagnosed with cancer may experience a range of side effects related to cancer treatment. Some of these will occur as a result of your surgery, while others may occur during your chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy. Some of the symptoms may also relate to cancer itself or to the stress of coping with cancer diagnosis. The impact that these symptoms have on people with cancer does seem to vary, so what may seem overwhelming to one person may not cause problems for another. This can also depend on the different treatment that people receive.

Please note though that this does not mean ALL of these symptoms will happen to you, nor is this intended to be a complete list of every symptom that may occur.