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What to Expect After Chemotherapy for Melanoma

Side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type and amount of drugs you’re taking. They vary from person to person.

Here are some of the more common temporary side effects from chemotherapy:

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting

  • Infections from low white blood cell counts

  • Easy bruising or bleeding from low blood platelets

  • Fatigue from low red blood cell counts

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet called peripheral neuropathy

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Hair loss

  • Mouth sores 

  • Skin changes

You may be able to help control some of these side effects. Tell your doctor or nurse about any changes or side effects that you notice. They can suggest things you can do to make yourself feel better. Most of these symptoms will go away or get better between treatments and within a few weeks after treatment ends. Your doctor will discuss with you other side effects that you may get over time.

A more serious potential side effect of chemotherapy for melanoma is organ damage. This includes damage to kidneys, liver, testes, ovaries, brain, heart, or lungs. 

It’s likely that your doctor will take blood samples from you often while you’re getting chemotherapy to make sure you aren’t having harmful reactions. Make sure you ask which signs, if any, require calling your doctor right away. For instance, chemotherapy can make you more likely to get infections. So you should call your doctor if you have any of these signs of infection:

  • Burning during urination

  • Fever

  • New cough or shortness of breath

  • Redness, swelling, and warmth at the site of an injury

  • Shaking chills

  • Sore throat