These Common Breast Cancer Medications Have Surprisingly Dangerous Side Effects
If you or a family member recently received a breast cancer diagnosis, there are several things you’ll be asked to do to help you get better. One of those steps will likely involve taking medications. Although some of these medications can help fight cancer or reduce your chance of developing the disease, there can be some concerning side effects.
Here are some common breast cancer medications that have surprisingly dangerous side effects.
Anastrozole is also known by the brand name Arimidex. It is often used to treat breast cancer in women after menopause. Some serious side effects associated with this medication include skin lesions, ulcers, or blisters; yellowing of the skin or eyes; blurred vision; chest pain; shortness of breath; difficulty swallowing or breathing; and swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs.
Next: This medication could put you at risk for this life-threatening side effect.
Capecitabine is also known by the brand name Xeloda. This drug could cause serious or life-threatening bleeding if you take it with anticoagulants (also called blood thinners) such as warfarin. MedlinePlus recommends seeking immediate medical attention if you experience serious symptoms such as bleeding easily; vomiting or spitting up blood or a brown substance that looks like coffee grounds; bloody or black, tarry stools; blood in your urine; or easy bruising.
Next: This drug has several negative side effects.
This is a chemotherapy drug that contains platinum. The drug can be used alone or combined with other cancer medications. It is usually administered intravenously. Carboplatin can cause a significant decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. MedlinePlus warns this could raise your risk of developing a serious infection or bleeding.
Other serious side effects include fever, sore throat, chills, cough and congestion, and additional signs of infection. You could also develop increased bleeding or bruising, black or tarry stools, blood in your stools, bloody vomit, and vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
Next: This drug could cause breathing difficulty.
Cyclophosphamide works by reducing your immune system’s response to different diseases. In addition to breast cancer, the drug is used to treat cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Some serious side effects from using cyclophosphamide include unusual bruising or bleeding, poor or slow wound healing, chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling of the extremities, and difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Next: Changes to your lifestyle and diet could help reduce some side effects of this drug.
This medication is also known by the brand names Adriamycin and Rubex. Some troubling side effects include severe nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite loss. The experts at WebMD suggest diet and lifestyle modifications, such as consuming several small meals a day and reducing physical activity, to help limit some of the side effects. In addition, doxorubicin could cause serious or life-threatening heart problems at any time during your treatment or even months to years after the conclusion of treatment.
Next: This drug has several side effects that could cause skin changes.
Fulvestrant is an antiestrogen medication also known by the brand name Falsodex. Some serious side effects associated with this medication include shortness of breath, chest pain, hives, rash, itching, swelling, itching, yellowing of the skin or eyes, and stomach pain. Other potential side effects include dizziness, nausea, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and vomiting.
Next: This drug treats several types of cancer.
In addition to breast cancer, this chemotherapy drug is also used to treat cancers that affect the lung, ovaries, and pancreas. Some side effects include sores in the mouth and throat, vomiting, hair loss, coughing up or vomiting blood, fatigue, a fast or pounding heartbeat, hives, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Some symptoms of overdosing on this drug include extreme fatigue, a severe rash, and bleeding.
Next: This drug could cause difficulty with movement.
Goserelin is also known by the brand name Zoladex. Some serious side effects of this drug include decreased consciousness, inability to move your legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing, chest pain, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, slow or difficult speech, bone pain, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, extreme thirst, and frequent urination.
Next: This medication could wreck your liver.
Lapatinib is also known by the brand name Tykerb. Lapatinib can cause severe or life-threatening liver damage. This damage to your liver can occur as soon as several days or as late as several months after the start of treatment, according to the experts at MedlinePlus. Other serious side effects include shortness of breath; fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat; coughing up pink or bloody mucus; and swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs.
Next: Watch out for these potentially dangerous signs and symptoms.
Paclitaxel is also known by the brand names Onxol and Taxol. Paclitaxel could cause a significant decrease in the number of white blood cells in your blood. Since white blood cells are necessary to fight infection, this could increase your risk of developing a serious infection. If you’re on this medication, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention if you show signs of infection such as a temperature greater than 100.4 °F (38 °C); a sore throat; cough; chills; difficult, frequent, or painful urination; or other signs of infection, according to MedlinePlus.
Next: Pregnancy could be a big problem with this drug.
Pertuzumab is also known by the brand name Perjeta. One serious side effect of using this medication is pregnancy loss. Consequently, Medline Plus warns that the pertuzumab injection shouldn’t be used if you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. Patients are usually required to have a pregnancy test before receiving this drug. Other serious side effects include shortness of breath; swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; and sore throat, fever, chills, cough, and other signs of infection.
Next: This drug could raise your clotting risk.
Raloxifene is also known by the brand name Evista. It is often used to reduce the chance of getting invasive breast cancer after menopause. It is also used to prevent and treat osteoporosis after menopause. Some serious side effects include an increased risk of developing a blood clot in your legs or lungs.
Next: Your stroke risk could significantly increase on this drug.
Tamoxifen has several concerning side effects. On rare occasions the drug has caused serious (sometimes fatal) strokes, blood clots in the lungs and legs, and cancer of the uterus, according to WebMD. Other serious side effects include bleeding, blisters, swelling, yellowing of the skin and eyes, problems with vision, rash, fever, and muscle weakness.
Next: Your heart health could be at risk if you take this drug.
Trastuzumab is also known by the brand name Herceptin. This medication is commonly used to treat tumors that produce an excessive amount of a certain substance called HER2 protein, according to WebMD. Trastuzumab injection could lead to serious or life-threatening heart problems. It could also cause severe lung damage. Other serious side effects include unusual bleeding, fatigue, and fever.
Next: Watch out for these signs and symptoms.
Vinorelbine can cause a significant decline in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. Consequently, you could be at a higher risk of getting a serious infection. It is recommended that you see your doctor right away if you develop a fever, sore throat, persistent cough and congestion, or any other signs of infection. Some serious side effects associated with this drug are irregular heartbeat, chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, shortness of breath, hives, and bleeding.
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