Side Effects of Treatment

Many colorectal cancer treatments will damage healthy cells and tissues, leading to side effects. These effects will depend on the type of treatment, and the extent of it. Ask your healthcare team to explain possible side effects of treatment before you undergo it, and discuss ways to manage these side effects.

Nausea and vomiting

Most treatments for colorectal cancers will lead to nausea and vomiting. There are many medications available to deal with this, but it is important to treat early and generously.


Much like nausea and vomiting, diarrhea is a common side effect of most colorectal cancer treatments. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help with this. In addition to this, it can take time for your digestive system to adjust following a surgery, and it’s important to learn which foods you are able to tolerate.


All treatments, as well as the cancer itself, can cause fatigue. In order to manage this, rest when you are tired and plan activities for when you have the most energy. You must also not be ashamed to ask for help. Talk to your doctor if the fatigue becomes debilitating, as it may be a result of depression, pain, or dehydration.

Peripheral neuropathy

Some chemotherapy drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy, which can include loss of sensation in the fingers and toes, or a feeling of pins and needles. Some medications and creams can be helpful, and so can acupuncture.



Information taken from Colorectal Cancer Alliance.