Chemotherapy: long-term risks

Developing a second cancer

With some drugs, there is a small possibility of developing a second cancer or serious blood disorder including leukaemia (cancer of the blood cells).

However, the benefits of having chemotherapy generally outweigh the risk of developing a second cancer. Your doctor will discuss this with you if your chemotherapy drugs include this risk.

Damage to the heart muscle

This is very rare but can occasionally happen with prolonged usage of some chemotherapy drugs, especially doxorubicin and epirubicin. You should inform your doctor if you have had any pre-existing heart problems and he/she may arrange for you to have a test to see how well your heart is working before you start treatment. You should tell your doctor if you notice chest pain or breathlessness.