09/03/2020 By AskAwayHealth

What Makes People Die During Chemotherapy?

Image showing a drip stand used by patients who die during chemotherapy.

Patience dying during chemotherapy

How Does Chemotherapy Work?

Death during chemotherapy should not be a common event.

Chemotherapy works by killing the cancer cells, but it can also have a destructive effect on healthy cells.

Chemotherapy medicines are incredibly toxic drugs that could affect vital organs like the kidneys or liver, and they do have quite strong side effects including weakness or fatigue, hair loss, weakened immune system, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore mouth, dry skin, etc.

Thus, it is important that the organ functions are in a stable condition before starting chemotherapy.

This is the reason blood tests are done before, during, and after chemotherapy.

If a woman has abnormal blood tests or other ill health, she should not be considered suitable for chemotherapy.

This is because abnormal blood tests may indicate problems with the liver or kidney.

Further damage could happen to these organs following chemotherapy (since we have already established that it is quite toxic).

Patients Who Die During Chemotherapy

Patients Who Die During Chemotherapy – Other Reasons

Other ill health like infections, heart disease, etc is associated with reduced immunity and giving chemotherapy on top of that rapidly worsens the person’s already poor health.

Taking chemotherapy itself also weakens the immune system for a period – this makes a woman susceptible to infections that could be severe and complicated and may lead to death.

Other risks that could happen may be poor monitoring during and in between chemotherapy, particularly for the intravenous medicines which should be closely supervised by medical staff.

The monitoring is crucial and reduces the risk of possible complications that could lead to death.


These are only some of the reasons for patients who die during chemotherapy.

Each case is individual and it is important that events that occur during chemotherapy including side effects or death are studied to prevent future occurrences.

Chemotherapy is an important aspect of cancer treatments today; and with care, most women survive their course of therapy (though may endure quite severe side effects).

Meeting the balance is an important part of the cancer journey.

More Reading

Edited by AskAwayHealth Team


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Image Credits: Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash