Steroids, sometimes called corticosteroids, are made in the body by small glands in the kidneys called adrenal glands. Steroids regulate all sorts of body functions including the metabolism and the immune system. Steroids can also be used, alone or in combination with other therapies, to kill cancer cells.
They may also be used to combat some of the side effects of chemotherapy, including:
- Allergic reactions
Steroids that are used to treat cancer include the following:
Steroids for cancer treatment may be given in one of several ways; in tablet or capsule form, as an injection, or intravenously via IV drip or via a central line or PICC line – tubes inserted directly into a vein.
Steroids have many side effects, most of which go away as soon as the therapy is stopped. Common side effects include:
- Increased appetite
- Mood swings
- Feelings of restlessness
- Sleeping problems
- Increased thirst
- Weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Menstrual changes
- Delayed healing
Long-term side effects may include increased facial hair, diabetes, puffiness, and an increased risk of infection.
Related cancer tests and treatments articles
- Read about chemotherapy
- Discover what radiotherapy is
- Learn more about lumbar puncture
- Find out more about cat scans
- What is an MRI?
- Read more about biopsies
Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health, and Health Insite.
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