Managing Symptoms

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Managing Symptoms

Cancer and treatment may cause symptoms or side effects. Some people experience physical symptoms, while others may be impacted on an emotional level, or both. Symptoms have many different causes and vary in how long they last.

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences side effects and symptoms differently. Talk to your health care team to better understand your symptoms and how to manage them.

You will find some general information about a number of symptoms listed here. We have also included helpful brochures created by the patient education experts at Cancer Care Ontario. They provide an overview and tips for how best to manage the symptoms and side effects of cancer and treatments. This information does not replace having a clear discussion with your health care provider about any symptoms, side effects, or concerns that you might have.


It is common for patients and families coping with cancer to feel anxious. When anxiety lasts longer, it may be time to seek out help to manage it.

Appetite Loss 

Appetite loss – or feeling unable to eat - may occur for people with cancer and could be the result of a number of causes. Your health care team includes a dietitian who can work with you to navigate the dietary challenges you are experiencing and also work with you to customize a new eating plan that fits with your life.

Shortness of Breath 

Feeling short of breath can be frightening and uncomfortable. If you are experiencing any breathing problems, be sure to talk to your health care provider.


Constipation is when your stool is difficult to pass and you have bowel movements less often. Individuals with cancer may experience constipation for a number of reasons. Your health care team can offer ways to help manage this symptom.


It is normal to feel many emotions - including feeling sad - when you are living with cancer. When your feelings stop you from enjoying your usual activities, or when sadness lasts for a prolonged period of time, it is time to reach out for help. Your health care team is here to help, and includes experts ready to assist with emotional care.


Diarrhea is loose, frequent bowel movements, often with bloating and stomach cramps. A person with cancer or undergoing treatment may experience diarrhea for a number of reasons. There are also a variety of treatment options. Be sure to talk to your health care team so they may help you with this symptom.


Fatigue is the most common symptom experienced by people with cancer and, for many people, it is the most difficult part of the cancer journey. Speak to your health care team to learn more about what you can do when you are struggling with fatigue.

Mouth Sores 

Mouth problems, such as mouth sores, sometimes occur during cancer treatment. Ask your health care team for resources on how to manage and alleviate this symptom.


Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting (throwing up) are sometimes side-effects of cancer treatment. Review our resources and speak with your health care team to get help if you are experiencing these symptoms.


Pain is sometimes a symptom associated with cancer. Each person feels cancer pain differently. If you are experience pain, be sure to talk to your health care team.