Being your own advocate means listening to your body and letting people know how you feel. Speak with your doctor and care team as soon as you can about serious chemo side effects (eg, fever, chills, and other signs of infection). There may be times between treatments when you will need to call your doctor for help. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Make a list of signs or symptoms that will need immediate medical attention should they occur.

Have a list of important contacts close by, so you can call when you need to. You may want to give a copy of key phone numbers to your caregiver(s), friends, and family members.

Some chemo side effects can evolve into problems that can be a danger to your health. Call your doctor and ask for help as soon as you need it.

Use the chart below as a handy guide to things that you may experience during or after chemo that warrant a call to your doctor. Remember, if any of these occurs, it is vital that you call your doctor immediately.

When to Call Your Healthcare Professional
If you experience any of the following at any time diring your cancer treatment inform your doctor immediately.
Fever higher than 100.5oF
If you feel ill with chills, but have no fever
Cough or sore throat
Vomiting that continues for longer than 12 hours
Severe constipation or diarrhea
One or more of the following symptoms in conjunction with frequent diarrhea or vomiting (signs of dehydration):
Dry mouth, increased thirst, decreased urination, increased heart rate, dizziness/lightheadedness (especially when rising to a standing position), weight loss, rapid breathing
Bleeding or bruising
Shortness of breath/chest pain (if you have extreme chest pain, call 911)
Urinary burning or urgency
Unusual vaginal descharge or itching
Blood in the urine or stool
Unusual fatigue
Redness, swelling, or sores on the skin
Rapid heartbeat
Pain in a new place or pain that is not relieved by your pain madicine
Inability to eat and continued weight loss
Mouth sores
Nasal congestion, drainage, or cough
Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

Be Proactive

If you have any of these side effects, call your doctor right away. Keep track of less serious side effects and discuss them with your doctor at your next chemo treatment. There are other things you can do to help:

  • Speak to people who have been through chemo.
  • Discuss chemo side effects with your doctor.
  • Take any and all medications as instructed. Your doctor may prescribe medications that help with side effects.
  • Discuss diet and exercise with your doctor and care team. Ask if there's a nutritionist on staff you can meet with. Avoiding certain foods may help with certain side effects, such as swelling and mouth sores.
  • Follow all medical advice. Call your doctor if severe side effects occur.

Soon enough you'll be a pro at getting the help you need. You can use these skills to help manage chemo side effects and get the most out of your chemo journey.

  • The Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide can help you understand your
    chance for infection

    Infection can be a serious result of chemo. Find out the factors that affect your chance of infection. Simply answer a few questions, and then print your results to share with your doctor.

    Use the Chemotherapy and Infection Discussion Guide to find out more.

  • Survivor Story

    Banner WATCH VIDEO >