Cochise Oncology

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How to Minimize Chemotherapy Side Effects

When you hear that your cancer treatment will include chemotherapy, you may have many concerns and questions. Most people wonder about the side effects of chemotherapy. Your provider will review what you can expect from your chemo and what steps you can take to reduce potential side effects. 

What is Chemotherapy for Cancer Treatment? 

Chemotherapy treats cancer using powerful chemicals that target cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting and interrupting different parts of the cell cycle. They affect the cell’s ability to make copies of itself, so they target rapidly dividing cells like cancer. However, they also affect healthy cells elsewhere in your body, depending on the type of chemotherapy. 

Tuscon Tomotherapy

How to Minimize Chemotherapy Side Effects 

Different chemotherapy drugs affect cells in different ways. As a result, your side effects will vary. Some common side effects and ways to manage them include:

Nausea and Vomiting

  • Eat five or six small meals instead of larger ones
  • Drink liquids before instead of with food
  • Avoid strong flavors if they bother you
  • Limit sweet, fatty, or greasy foods

Brain Fog or “Chemo Brain”

  • Use a daily planner and write everything down
  • Read, do word puzzles, or find other activities to keep your brain active
  • Make a schedule and remember to eat and sleep consistently


  • Exercise as much as you feel able, even if you just take a walk
  • Prioritize tasks so you use your energy on important things
  • Take naps during the day to keep your energy levels up

Hair Loss

  • Use gentle products without harsh chemicals
  • Use a soft-bristled brush and make sure not to tug on the hair
  • Do not bleach or dye your hair

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

Chemotherapy comes in many forms. You may receive your chemotherapy orally or by IV. The drug will travel through the body, limiting cancer cells’ ability to divide and grow. Common types of chemotherapy include:

Alkylating Agents

These chemotherapy drugs damage the DNA of cells to stop them from dividing. They are effective for many different types of cancer, but they have some risks. 


These drugs disrupt cell division by taking the place of normal DNA building blocks, causing cells to build faulty DNA. As a result, the cancer cells cannot make copies of themselves. 

Anti-tumor Antibiotics

Instead of killing bacteria, these antibiotics interfere with an enzyme that cells need to copy their DNA. Without this enzyme, the cell cycle cannot proceed. 

Mitotic inhibitors

Many of these drugs are derived from plants. They can interrupt cell division, but they also block cells from producing important proteins they need to grow and divide. 


Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

Am I a Good Candidate for Chemotherapy?

With all the varieties of chemotherapy available, it forms an important part of many cancer treatment plans. Newer chemotherapy drugs have fewer side effects and are more effective at targeting cancer cells. Your provider will choose the right chemotherapy drug to meet your needs. 


*Individual Results May Vary


At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Take the Next Step

Do you have questions about chemotherapy side effects? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 803-6644 or fill out the consultation form on this page.

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