Long-term and late side effects of breast cancer treatment may include:
Following treatment, some breast cancer survivors may suffer from lymphedema, a chronic condition caused by lymphatic fluid accumulating in the tissues. It affects the limbs and can also cause swelling in other parts of the body.
Doctors do not fully understand why some breast cancer survivors suffer from lymphedema after treatment while others remain unaffected.
The risk of developing lymphedema continues for the rest of your life so it is critical to be aware of the risks.
Decongestive therapy by a certified lyphedema specialist is the best prescription for lymphedema.
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about lymphedema treatment.
Chemo brain is mental cloudiness during and after cancer treatment. The exact cause is unknown, but it can last a short time or for years, and can make you unable to go back to school, work, or participate in social activities.
There are things that you can do to help you manage chemo brain:
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about chemo brain.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy, a set of symptoms caused by damage to nerves that control the sensations and movements of your arms and legs.
According to the American Cancer Society, the most common symptoms are:
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy.
Fatigue is the most common side effect of breast cancer treatment. An estimated 9 out of 10 people experience some fatigue during treatment. Fatigue can last for months or even years after treatment ends.
Because there are so many causes, there is no one solution to relieve fatigue. Here is a list of practices that many women have used:
The American Cancer Society recommends that people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer exercise regularly to improve their quality of life (and reduce fatigue).
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about breast cancer-related fatigue.
Most women go through menopause (cessation of monthly menstrual cycle) as a natural part of the aging process, right around age 51 on average — some sooner, some later. But if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, some of your treatments could bring on menopause more quickly and more abruptly than expected. This is called medical menopause.
Medical menopause causes a sudden and dramatic shift within the body —lowering hormone levels within days or weeks instead of years. Symptoms often come on more abruptly than they would with a natural menopause. Although these symptoms can be uncomfortable for anyone, they can be particularly hard to deal with during or after breast cancer treatment.
There are ways to manage symptoms and live more comfortably with menopause. Lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, smoking cessation, emotional support) may be just as important and effective as medications in helping you feel better and live well. See our lifestyle tips on the SISTAAH Talk Cancer Prevention page.
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about surgical menopause.
One out of every 3 people treated for breast cancer can develop complications that affect the mouth. Chemotherapy can effect saliva production, leading to dry mouth, and serious dental implications.
Practice good oral hygiene to decrease bacteria levels in the mouth to relieve some of the side effects of breast cancer treatment.
Please consult your physician, dentist, or other health care provider to learn more about dental issues for breast cancer survivors.
Women who have been treated for breast may be at greater risk for osteoporosis and fracture. The drop in estrogen (which has a protective effect on bone) is reduced due to chemotherapy. Women who were premenopausal before breast cancer treatment go through menopause earlier than those who have not had the disease. Because of chemotherapy or surgery, reduced levels of estrogen trigger bone loss. Studies also suggest that chemotherapy may have a direct negative effect on bone. Breast cancer itself may also stimulate the production of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone.
For women diagnosed with breast cancer, there are strategies to reduce the risk or lessen the effects of osteoporosis:
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about osteoporosis or bone loss for breast cancer survivors.
Many things can cause heart problems, including stress, being overweight, and smoking. But for breast cancer survivors, several treatments can also cause heart problems. Most doctors believe that if heart problems occur during treatment, your heart will probably regain full function after treatment ends. To make sure, your doctor may test your heart before you start treatment for breast cancer and several times during treatment.
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about health problems for breast cancer survivors.
Though not a common side effect, breast cancer treatment may affect your eyes, including your vision. Chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy medications may cause ocular side effects. During breast cancer treatment, you can experience many side effects.
Please consult your physician or other health provider to learn more about vision problems during breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer treatments (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy) can cause headaches.
Symptoms include throbbing, sharp, steady, or dull pain in the head
Please consult upper physician or other health care provider to learn more about headaches during breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer and its treatment places survivors at a higher risk of blood clots. A blood clot develops in a vein, is called venous thromboembolism (VTE); a blood clot in the legs, thighs or pelvis, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Please consult your physician or other health care provider to learn more about preventing blood clots during and following breast cancer treatment.