About Breast Cancer > Side effects

Side effects of breast cancer treatment

8 Min. Read

About Breast Cancer > Side effects


It’s important to know that symptoms of breast cancer are different than the side effects of breast cancer treatment. For more information about symptoms of breast cancer, visit Breast cancer symptoms.

Each person diagnosed with breast cancer is unique. So is each treatment plan, and different people experience different side effects. For example, some chemotherapies cause hair loss; others don't. And some people experience nausea or weight gain during treatment, while others may not.

Side effects can be short-term or last longer (long-term effects). Side effects can also happen at different times: during treatment, or months or years afterward. Those — the ones that show up years after treatment has ended — are called late effects.

There are many different types of side effects, and whether they happen depends on many things, including:

  • The type of treatment being used
  • The treatment dose
  • Other treatments being taken at the same time
  • How your individual body reacts to a medicine

At LBBC, we’re here for you with support for managing side effects. Many side effects are temporary, and most can be reduced. On this page, we’ll share links to more information about different side effects: what they can feel like, when and how likely they are to occur, and the treatments that may cause them.

We’ll also share tips for talking about side effects, and ways to start a conversation with your doctors. Talking openly with your healthcare team can help.


Common side effects of breast cancer treatment

Here are some of the common side effects that can happen with different breast cancer treatments. Not everyone will experience every side effect. On each page below, we’ll walk you through tips and strategies for managing them if they do happen.


Practical and personal side effects

Breast cancer affects more than just your breasts. It can impact your quality of life: your day-to-day routines and the person you know yourself to be, emotionally and physically.

Still, there are many ways to manage body image and emotional issues that can come up, including one-on-one counseling and support groups. You can learn more by visiting our community page.

The effects of different breast cancer treatments on the body

Here are the most common breast cancer treatments that can cause side effects:

While there can be many different side effects with different treatments, remember that not everyone experiences every side effect. Your healthcare team can help you prevent or manage the ones that do happen.


Reporting side effects

If you’re experiencing a side effect that’s concerning to you, let your doctor know. Most treatments for breast cancer have well-known side effects. Treatments that are newly approved may have rare side effects.

If you’re trying a newly approved treatment and have a side effect that wasn’t expected, talk with your doctor about the possibility of reporting it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reporting rare side effects lets the FDA know about any unexpected risks with a new drug, and can help protect public health. To learn more, visit FDA.


Get the support you need

At LBBC, our mission is to support you wherever you are on your breast cancer journey. That includes our online support groups and our Breast Cancer Helpline where you can be matched with a peer volunteer who has been where you are. Whether you want to talk tips for managing your side effects, or just lean on a community of folks who know what you’re going through, our support resources are there for you.


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