Cancer Symptoms and Side Effects of Treatment

  • Ian N. Olver


Cancer can present without symptoms when it is discovered incidentally or as a result of screening. A feature of a symptom of cancer is persistence. Symptoms can be systemic, such as weight loss or fatigue, or organ specific, such as pain or cough. When treatment commences the symptoms of cancer must be distinguished from the side effects of therapy. These can be characterised by their temporal relation to the treatment as immediate, delayed by days, weeks of months or late effects which occur years later. These symptoms and side effects in turn must be distinguished from the symptoms of concomitant illnesses or side effects of other medication. A multidisciplinary approach is commonly used to manage cancer and parallel care between palliative care clinicians and oncologist is an ideal model for symptom control. Maximising quality of life is the overall aim of treating patients with cancer and this includes recognising all of the parameters, such as spiritual well-being, which impact on overall quality of life, and takes into account the balance between the efficacy and toxicity of treatments. Finally, survivorship embraces late physical effects of the cancer and its treatment as well as psychosocial issues and the adjustment to life after a diagnosis of cancer.


Palliative Care Symptom Control Palliative Care Team Palliative Care Clinician Cardiotoxic Drug 
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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Sydney Medical SchoolSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Cancer Council AustraliaSydneyAustralia

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