Thursday, July 24, 2008

Managing Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Because cancer cells grow and divide rapidly, many anti-cancer treatments (including chemotherapy and radiation) are made to kill fast-growing cells. But certain normal, healthy cells also grow quickly and treatments can affect these cells too. When it does, side effects may result. The fast-growing, normal cells most likely to be affected are blood cells forming in the bone marrow, cells in the digestive track, reproductive system and hair follicles. Side effects are also very unique to the type of treatment you are receiving. You may experience none, some or many problems in this section, depending on your treatment, your individual reaction to the treatment and your overall health status.

Most normal cells recover quickly when treatment is over, so most side effects gradually disappear after treatment ends. The time it takes to recover varies from person to person. When you are undergoing cancer therapy treatments you will need to take care of yourself to support the effectiveness of treatment and minimize side effects. The aim of this article is to help you manage the more common problems or side effects that may occur while under your physicians care during your treatment.

• Managing Pain... Cancer patients may have pain for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the effects of the cancer itself, or it could result from treatment methods. Remember that not all people with cancer have pain, and those who do are not in pain all the time.

•Ways to Help You Cope with Pain
• Take your pain medication as directed by your doctor. If they do not work, go back to your doctor and tell him/her.
• Get enough rest, space out your activities
• Use heat or cold applications
• Use relaxation therapy
• Distractions, e.g. TV, movies
• Guided imagery or visualization
• Physical Therapy

• Nausea & Vomiting - Nausea is the feeling of an upset stomach which may or may not be associated with vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are usually short-term symptoms experienced during the first week after receiving chemotherapy. Your physician will order medications to control nausea and vomiting.
• What You Can Do To Control Nausea and Vomiting?
• Drink cool or room temperature liquids between meals such as: Gatorade, lemonade, cola, a Popsicle, tea, 7-Up, cranberry juice, apple juice, ginger ale.
• Eat bland foods, either cold or at room temperature, such as: dairy products (if not lactose intolerant), cottage cheese, yogurt, cereal, watermelon, crackers, toast, mashed potatoes, cantaloupe, and sherbet.
• Frequently eat small meals in a quiet, relaxed setting.
• Brush your teeth before and after each meal.
• Frequently rinse your mouth with cool water, mint flavored water or a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water.
• Do not eat fried, spicy or rich foods.
• Do not cook or eat foods with strong aromas.

• Hair Loss...Hair loss, or alopecia, varied from slight thinning to complete loss of hair. The loss of hair may include scalp, facial, axillary, pubic and body hair. Radiation therapy may cause hair loss in the area that is treated. Loss of hair occurs over a period of days or weeks. When the hair does grow back, frequently there is a change in the color or texture. Regrowth usually occurs in six to eight weeks after completion of therapy. Not all chemotherapy or radiation will cause hair loss.
• What You Can Do About Hair Loss?
• Use gentle protein-based shampoo such as Johnsons Baby Shampoo, followed by a cream rinse or conditioner every three to five days to keep your hair in good condition.
• Rinse your hair thoroughly and pat dry gentle to avoid damaging your hair.
• Turbans, hats and scarves are attractive alternatives to wigs and hairpieces. Choose a color and style that you are most comfortable with.
• Before hair loss occurs, you may need to see a professional who can assist you in selecting a wig that closely matches your hairstyle and color. Early consultation can ease your mind before you start your treatment.
• Limit the use of hair clips, barrettes, elastic bands, bobby pins, hair sprays, dyes, permanents, blow dryers, hot rollers and curling irons. • When outdoors, cover your head to prevent heat loss and sunburn
• Your insurance company may cover the cost of a hairpiece.

• Diarrhea...Diarrhea is the frequent passage of soft or liquid bowel movements. Diarrhea is usually easily controlled by medications. Your physician will order medications to control diarrhea.
• What You Can Do To Control Diarrhea?
• Eat foods which are warm or at room temperature.
• Frequently eat small meals in a quiet, relaxed setting.
• Eat foods high in protein and calories to replace the nutrients lost through diarrhea. Foods high in protein and calories include: eggs, asparagus*, fish, tofu, white bread, cheese, peas, banana*, white rice, cream soups, buttermilk, halibut*, noodles, tapioca, baked potato*, custard, poultry, avocado, smooth peanut butter, macaroni, applesauce*, yogurt, carrots*
•* foods high in potassium diarrhea may also cause you to lose potassium
•To restore energy, rest when you feel tired and after each meal. Drink eight glasses of liquids every day to maintain bowel regularity and prevent dehydration.
Liquids to include: Gatorade, pasteurized apple juice, gelatin, weak tea, grape juice, non-carbonated beverages, All Sport, Hydra Fuel, Recharge.

There are many other categories in the "Managing Side Effects", chapter of the Cancer Treatment Organizer such as; Chewing and Swallowing, Fatigue & Weakness, Taste Impairment, Bleeding, Constipation, Dryness of the Mouth, Mouth Sores and Sexuality (For Men and Women).

In the Managing Side Effects chapter I even include wonderful recipes that are quick and easy for you to make in aiding in some of the side effects that may occur during the course of your Cancer Treatment.
• Mouth Soreness Smoothie
• Mouth-Soothing Capsaicin Taffy
• Recipe for Dry or sore Mouth (Jell-o)
• Recipe for controlling Diarrhea (Rice Congee)
• Recipe for Diarrhea (Cover Tea)
• Recipe for Nausea (Ginger Tea)

Please visit our website for detailed information. Click on Table of Contents for insight to what is in the organizer, you can also click on "MedTrakker Tour" for slide pics of the Organizer.

Quote: "Helping To Make Life Easier, Because You Have Enough To Worry About"!

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