Summary of managing treatment side effects

Lung cancer treatment can cause temporary and permanent side effects.

Common side effects when you have radiation, chemotherapy and targeted therapy treatments include effects on the blood and immune system (such as anaemia (low red blood cells) and infections), fatigue (extreme tiredness), nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, and itchy and dry skin.

Radiation treatment side effects can vary. You may develop hot, dry skin (similar to sunburn) where you were given treatment. Scarring of the lungs with shortness of breath can occur later after treatment finishes.

Most chemotherapy drugs cause side effects, with the most common including nausea (feeling sick), fatigue, hair loss, skin rashes and mouth sores.

Targeted therapy can cause diarrhoea, skin rash and changes to your nails.

If fever develops (if your temperature is 38 degrees or over) or you feel unwell, even with a normal temperature, don't wait to see what happens—take action quickly. Contact your local hospital and follow the advice given.

Talk to your medical team if you have side effects. In most cases, there are ways to make these easier to manage.

For more information on managing side effects, read the Society's booklet Coping with Cancer which is available from your local Cancer Society, from our website or the nurses on the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237).