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Managing Side Effects

While you are undergoing radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy for melanoma, you may experience side effects that may make eating more difficult, food less appealing, and tasks more difficult to accomplish. Side effects vary in severity and duration from person to person. They may also vary with treatments and during different phases of treatment and recovery. Often the most severe side effects occur in the early days of treatment and gradually subside as your body adjusts to treatment. Most side effects disappear after treatment ends. Unfortunately, growing cancer can cause similar symptoms, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between side effects caused by the treatment and the progression of the disease.

Asymptomatic side effects 

Asymptomatic side effects means that the treatment does not produce obvious symptoms that you can feel. These side effects can decrease white blood cell production, cause elevations in liver enzymes, or changes in kidney function.

Left untreated, these effects can eventually cause serious symptoms and conditions.


Asymptomatic side effects are detected and monitored by blood tests. Depending on your treatment, you will receive regular blood tests for liver function, kidney function, and/or blood cell counts. Abnormal test results may indicate a need for modifications in your cancer therapy or direct treatment of your side effects.

Symptomatic side effects 

These side effects may cause symptoms that you can feel, and that may be bothersome in your normal life. However, there are recommendations and approaches that you can try until you find the one that works best for you. Your doctor and other members of your health care team can help you find ways to address the problems you are experiencing. 


To learn about flu-like symptoms, click here.


To learn about fatigue, click here.


To learn about nausea, click here.


To learn about changes in taste and smell, click here.


To learn about loss of appetite, click here.


To learn about depression, click here.


  • Call your doctor if your symptoms continue and cause you too much discomfort.

  • You may need to have an adjustment in the dosage of your therapy, which will help make your side effects more tolerable.

  • Do not attempt to change the dosage on your own; follow your doctor's instructions.