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Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer can experience a huge array of side effects. Most women do not experience every possible side effect. Each treatment and combination of treatments can cause different side effects. Which side effects you experience will also depend on your age, any additional health conditions you have, and your overall health. Just like some women have genetic risk factors for breast cancer, your genetic background can raise your risk for some side effects or lower your risk for others.
Some breast cancer treatments carry a higher risk of causing serious side effects than others. For this reason, there are established guidelines for which breast cancer treatments should be tried first and when more aggressive treatments are warranted. Doctors make treatment recommendations based on the type and stage of the breast cancer.
With any breast cancer treatment, the likelihood of serious side effects must be weighed against the risk that the cancer may continue to advance and become life-threatening.
Some side effects are usually temporary, while others may be chronic, or even permanent. To read about the common side effects of a specific medication, surgery, or other type of breast cancer therapy, visit the treatment pages.
Many potential side effects of breast cancer treatment are likely to resolve in the weeks or months following the completion of treatment.
Late side effects may not occur until months or years after breast cancer treatments have ended. Others may begin during treatment but persist years after treatment is complete. Some side effects of breast cancer treatment can be permanent.