Starting FEC

Hi everyone. I had a total mastectomy on 13th July and am due to start FEC treatment in two weeks. Just wondered what initial side effects I should prepare for. Have been told I can have cold cap but undecided as might still lose hair.

Hi Ali,

Sorry that you need to have chemo.

You might get more replies if you post to one of the Chemotherapy threads set up for monthly starters. There is one for August and one for September here

When I did FEC (3 x) my main side effects were

  1. Hair loss (all over the body including head. I did use a cold cap and managed to keep about 25%)

  2. Severe nausea and vomiting. The drugs they gave me didn’t work and it took all 3 FEC cycles to finally get it under control and the right drugs

  3. Breathlessness on doing simple things

  4. weakness and fatigue

  5. dizzyness

  6. forgetfulness

  7. Infections (ended up in hospital)

  8. altered taste and smell

and many more

For most of my FEC I was either bedbound or housebound. It’s impossible to tell how one will react. Some people have symptoms for a few days or a week only. Some have few symptoms at all.I found FEC symptoms culmulative.

Don’t let me put you off though. It can be much easier than my list.

Hope that helps. 


Hi Ali


I hope your recovery from surgery is going as well as is possible. There can be a lot to think about before starting chemotherapy but I think it is great that you are trying to prepare as much as you can. And I do think making decisions about things like the cold cap can be difficult, there is no right and wrong but it can be hard to decide what is ‘right’ for you.


I’m not sure if you are aware but if you did want to speak directly with someone that has experienced FEC but also knows what it is like to use the cold cap, you could email our volunteer Kim. I am sure she’d be happy to tell you a bit about her own experiences and to answer any questions that she can.


You can read a bit about her and email her directly using this link- 


Very best wishes




Hi AliC_64

Welcome to the forum - I am curently going through 6 x FEC and am due for my last one on September 1.

It would be great to see you on the September 2016 chemotherapy starters

There are a number of links, if you scroll down to the first post - which you might find of great help.

The side effects of FEC are different for each and everyone of us. Much depends on our general state of health, age and possible underlying health issues.

As you go through chemo you will be given accompanying medication, such as steroids and anti sickness tablets, which should keep side effects to a mimimum. They certainly did with me. And if they do not work with the first cycle - the meds can be adjusted to be more effective the next time round.

The side effects, which appear to be unavoidable are hair loss and fatigue. The fatigue is caused by the lack of oxygen in our bodies, due to the diminishing red blood cells. And it is cumulative. However, I am still just about able to work - now after my 5th FEC, after day 10 of the treatment up to the next one. And yes, we are more prone to infections - much will depend on our surroundings and how we chose to go through chemo. If you have children in your daily environment it might be wise to request G csf injections, which are there to support your immune system. Absolute cleanliness in the home, avoiding very close contact with others, proper hand washing, when handling foods, having touched surfaces in public places etc. will generally ensure you should be able to avoid infections.

One piece of advise I would like to add - if you are having FEC throughout - I would seriously suggest you have a PICC line installed before you start - to save your veins. The E in the FEC is not kind to them at all!

As to cold cap - I decided not to - for me having to spend a minimum of an extra 2 hours in the unit was simply too much time out of my day. And I hate the cold, with passion - so rather than using my energy to deal with a freezing head and head ache added to possible side effects - I use my energy to deal with other things. For some the cold cap works - some loose 50-60% - and others more.

I did not like the idea to put myself through all of that - without having at least a 90% chance to retain my hair - but that is me.


Sue xx