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Chemotherapy lowers the white blood cell count, making patients more prone to infections. Seek medical advice quickly if any of the following symptoms are present: fever, cough, a white coating in the mouth or on the tongue, severe abdominal discomfort, pain during urination, cloudy urine, difficulty breathing, redness or swelling on any part of your body, or an overall feeling of being ill.

Take steps to prevent these infections.

  1. Avoid crowded areas and stay away from those with flu or other in​fections which can be spread easily.
  2. Maintain good personal hygiene such as washing hands before eating and after using the toilet.
  3. Avoid eating uncooked food or cleaning pet excrement. Also, do not keep fresh flowers or plants in your room.​

Joint pain and muscle aches

These range from mild aches to severe pain, usually in the hips, knees and shoulders. They may not occur all the time but start typically two to three days after treatment. Usually, medication is prescribed but warm baths, a massage and rest can also help. A heating pad applied for short periods of time, several times a day, can be soothing.

Sore mouth

Ulcers and painful inflammation in the mouth can occur. Keep the mouth clean and moist at all times to prevent worsening and infections. Some patients find comfort in rinsing the mouth frequently with a salt solution. Smoking, alcoholic beverages, hot, spicy or sour foods, and mouthwashes that contain more than 6 per cent alcohol can aggravate the condition.

To find out more about the side effects of chemotherapy, read Your Guide to Chemotherapy, a booklet produced by the National Cancer Centre Singapore:

​​​​Your Guide to Chemotherapy Booklet​​​​​​

For more tips on how to cope with ​chemotherapy side effects​, see previous page.

Ref: O17