How long do side effects last?

Most normal cells recover quickly when chemotherapy is over. The side effects gradually disappear after treatment ends and the healthy cells get a chance to grow normally. The time it takes to get over some side effects and regain energy varies from person to person. How soon you will feel better depends on many factors, including your overall health and the kind of drugs you have been taking.

While many side effects go away fairly rapidly, certain ones may take months or years to disappear completely. Sometimes, the side effects can last a lifetime, as chemotherapy may cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys or reproductive organs. Certain types of chemotherapy occasionally may cause delayed effects, such as a second cancer, that show up many years later.

The side effects of chemotherapy can be unpleasant, but they must be measured against treatment’s ability to destroy cancer. People getting chemotherapy sometimes become discouraged about the duration of treatment or the side effects they are having. If that happens to you, talk to your doctor.