Chemotherapy may be necessary to treat your cancer, but chemotherapy also has significant risks. After you and your doctor weigh the potential benefits and risks of chemotherapy, you may decide to move forward with treatment. While all of the potential risks may not be avoidable, your medical team has a responsibility to monitor you during and after treatment.
What Monitoring Looks Like
Most people receiving chemotherapy will have their blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and temperature taken each time they come in for treatment. Additionally, most people will have periodic tests to determine if the chemotherapy is effective in fighting their cancer.
Certain types of chemotherapy present specific risks for cancer patients. For example:
- Cardiac toxicity is a risk with some chemotherapy drugs. Your doctor may recommend periodic tests to diagnose any heart problems and make you aware of potential symptoms of heart problems that are cause for concern.
- Kidney damage is possible if you take certain chemotherapy medications. Your doctor may suggest periodic tests to evaluate your kidney function and inform you of the potential symptoms of kidney trouble.
Pulmonary problems, liver damage, and other serious side effects may also occur. Your doctor should make you aware of the potential side effects and discuss a monitoring plan with you to minimize the risks.
Play an Active Part in Your Chemo Monitoring
The American Cancer Society provides important documents that you can use to monitor your symptoms and side effects. These forms include a:
- Pain Diary
- Chemotherapy Side Effects Worksheet
- Radiation Side Effects Worksheet
- Medication List
You should keep these forms up to date and bring them with you to all of your scheduled appointments. Additionally, it is vital to keep all of your appointments and to follow up on test results if a doctor fails to provide them to you.