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Side Effects

Therapy for CLL sometimes produces side effects. Side effects from kinase inhibitor drugs and monoclonal antibody therapy are generally milder than side effects from chemotherapy. 

For most patients, treatment side effects are temporary and go away once therapy ends. For other patients, side effects can be more severe, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Some patients never have side effects. 

Before you undergo treatment, talk with your doctor about potential side effects. Drugs and other therapies can prevent or manage many side effects. 

To download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers, click here.

Common Side Effects

Chemotherapy drugs are the main culprits when it comes to causing unwanted side effects. These drugs can kill cancer cells, but they can damage normal cells, too. The lining of the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines are particularly vulnerable to damage. Additionally, CLL produces symptoms that can be made worse by treatment. 

The following side effects are common to chemotherapy and, to a lesser extent, monoclonal antibody therapy and other drug therapies. They include: 

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Infections 
  • Hair loss 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Heartburn 
  • Constipation 
  • Mouth sores 
  • Aches and pains 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Low levels of red cells, white cells, and platelets in the blood 
  • Anemia (caused by a low red cell count) 
  • Rash 

For information about specific drugs, visit Drug Listings.

Long-Term and Late Effects

For some patients, side effects may last well after they finish treatment. To read more about lingering side effects, click here

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