• Has anyone had shortness of breath as a side effect of chemo?

    Asked by ladye156 on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Has anyone had shortness of breath as a side effect of chemo?

    I have been to the cardiologist and the pulmonary doctor and neither have found a reason for my severe shortness of breath on activity. It started a month after I began chemo.

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • JAYCC's Avatar

      Not a doctor just a caregiver, here's some questions to asked to doctors based on my husband's experiences, everyone is different so it may not be applicable;

      -What doctor is watching your symptoms ? suggest don't assume they talk to each other ask all of them and push one of them to own that particular symptom
      - Make it clear that the symptom is a problem for you. Great to hear you have activity, keep it up.
      -Have you been checked for clots ? x-ray is not enough

      My husband had shortness of breath it came from a clot in the leg that moved around and starting building up against the lung. Very treatable. Signs were shortness of breath on stairs. They thought it was a sideffect of stomach swelling but was a clot.
      clots in the legs are not uncommon in cancer, the clot then can move around alittle

      over 8 years ago
    • markmather's Avatar

      I had big problems with shortness of breath during and after chemo. It felt like I couldn't breath deep down into my lungs. As time went by it got better on its own. I asked questions but never got any answers as to what I could do to help it. A year and a half post chemo and I am breathing quite a bit better but I realize it may never be the same again.

      over 8 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      what do your blood counts look like? if you are super anemic (i was), that could make it harder for you to get oxygen where it needs to be. in other words, climb a set a stairs... and you end up all out of breath.

      i was very active through out chemo, but when my red blood cell count / hemoglobin dropped off, i got out of breath easily. my body was trying so hard to get oxygen to my muscles!

      good luck. i hope you are able to figure it out.

      over 8 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      I had the same experience as markmather. I found it very difficult to take deep breaths without coughing and got very short of breath very quickly. Prior to starting chemo I was very active and never had trouble. I had a CT scan post chemo to make sure I was cancer free and they saw some lung changes on it (not cancer!). I am about 2 months out post chemo and all of those symptoms have gone away. My doctor is not going to work me up unless the symptoms return. It was pretty upsetting to me when I was going through it knowing I used to be in such good shape.

      over 8 years ago
    • ladye156's Avatar

      Not cause by low blood count and CT scan of lungs are normal. Numerous cardiac tests and pulmonary tests are negative. Cannot walk more than 5-6 steps without severe shortness of breath. It is a comfort to know that I am not alone with these symptoms. Hope that when chemo ends the symptoms disappear.

      over 8 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear ladye156:
      You say it's not related to blood counts. I had the same experience but it was related to blood counts. Normal hemoglobin count is 12 to 15; after chemotherapy mine would fall to 6 or 7. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs and had to stop in the middle of simple things - like carrying a load of laundry - to catch my breath. I was given 4 blood transfusions during my time in chemotherapy and noticed a considerable improvement after each one. As my oncologist would tell me, "We build you up just to knock you down again!" Reassuring, in some perverse way. Do you have a pre-chemotherapy blood count to use as a comparison? Even though your counts may look ok, it may be that they are low for you by comparison to what your counts are normally.
      Fight On,

      over 8 years ago
    • Rose's Avatar

      Yes, I have had a problem with shortness of breath. During chemo it was the worst. I thought now I know what it like when some one who's four to five hundred pounds complains of having shortness of breath problems just walking across the room. Going up a flight of stairs was a problem. I had to go up the stairs slowly. It's been maybe six weeks since my last chem and I still find that I have to take in a deep breath every three or four regular breaths. I can't remember the exact dynamics, but it's something like... oxygen molecules attach to iron which attaches to the red blood cells. With the white, red, blood cell count down from chemo, there's nothing for the oxygen molecules to attach to to send the oxygen through out your system. I think we should be given an oxygen tank to help us with that.

      over 8 years ago
    • Bashiemn's Avatar

      I also had shortness of breath after I began chemo. It happened for the first 5 cycles or so. It did go away, and I've had multiple echocardiograms which do not show any changes since I started chemo.

      over 8 years ago
    • pj1955's Avatar

      I had shortness of breath after my fifth treatment, right after I started Taxol. I couldn't even talk without getting out of breath. My oxygen levels went down to 89. I was given steroids for 10 days. They did a CT scan which showed inflammation of the lungs. They ended up stopping my treatments.

      over 8 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      I had the same thing from chemo. It took several months for that to stop after chemo ended. Just take things slow & keep your doctor updated. Good luck to you!

      over 8 years ago

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