Side effects of cancer treatment and their possible management
Did you know that about 2 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year? Depending on the type of cancer, different medications are given. They might include a combination of radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, stem cells transplant, hormone therapy or immunotherapy. The patients spend millions of money for the treatments. Mental and physical energy is lost in the process as well. The treatments in most cases produce side effects which the patients find hard to deal with. Well, not all patients experience the side effects. In many cases, the side effects are manageable, but they get worse if they make the patient uncomfortable or reduce the effectiveness of the medication. Below are some common side effects and suggestions on how to deal with them.
More than 70 percent cancer patients suffer fatigue from the treatments. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy mostly result in fatigue. If the fatigue cannot be controlled by resting, it might affect daily functioning of the patient. Below are some of the ways to deal with fatigue:
- Daily exercise
- Reduce workload
- Healthy and nutritious diet
- Rest when you feel tired
Some of the drugs affect the intestines. Active ingredients in the drugs react with the bacteria in the intestines which could result in discomfort and diarrhea. 30 % of cancer patients suffer such. Below are strategies to manage diarrhea:
- Eat foods which are easy to digest
- Increase your fluid intake
- Stay away from foods rich in fiber.
Many cancer patients especially those undergoing chemotherapies suffer hair loss. The high dosage of those drugs is aimed to destroy the growing cancer cells but ends up destroying all other growing cells including the hair roots. It is for this reason that patients lose their hair from the eyebrows, scalp, eyelashes, private parts and armpits. The hair, however, grows back in a few months after the treatment. Below are some of the ways to deal with hair loss.
- Cool the scalp
- Cover your head with a wig, hat or scarf
- Use the drug minoxidil but only if your doctor approves it
- Let it fall out without getting stressed. It will grow back.
Low sex drive
Some patients are reported to suffer sexual dysfunction after treatment. This mostly affects patients who had cancers related to colon, rectum, bladder, and prostate. It is not only men who suffer such but women too. They mostly suffer low libido after receiving therapies related to the breasts, cervix, and ovaries.