Being Prepared for Cancer Treatment Side Effects

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Susan Ulloa
Susie Ulloa, RN, breast cancer navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at North Florida Regional Healthcare

Cancer is a life-changing journey that is unique to each person facing the disease. There is not a one-size-fits-all type of remedy for cancer treatment side effects. The types of side effects that you may experience depend on the treatment type, your cancer type, cancer staging, overall health and other factors.

Many of the side effects you may be feeling are most likely common for other patients as well, so you don’t have to feel alone. Some of these include sweet food tasting sour, odors being bothersome, sore throat, itchy skin, being forgetful, feeling tired, getting full quickly while eating or not being able to sleep.

Other common side effects for cancer patients and survivors are fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, pain and weight loss, constipation or diarrhea, as well as specific treatment side effects like hair loss during chemotherapy and changes to the skin after radiation therapy.

While you undergoing treatment for cancer, it is important to pay close attention to your body’s signs so that you can identify any concerns early and talk to your care team about remedies for side effects and any adjustments needed in your care.

“It is very important to discuss symptoms with your care team while you are receiving treatment for cancer. This includes new symptoms, persistent symptoms, and anything that might be related to your current treatment,” said Susie Ulloa, RN, breast cancer navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at North Florida Regional Healthcare. “Your providers will guide you, make recommendations to manage your symptoms and help address any questions you may have during and after treatment.”

Over-the-counter medicines may affect your cancer treatment. Be sure to talk to your care team or nurse navigator before taking any painkillers, anti-nausea treatments or other medications. They will help you figure out what symptom-management strategies are safe for you.

Some of your side effects may be avoided by finding ways around symptom triggers. For example, if meat tastes bitter or unappealing to you, try eating an alternative protein source like nuts, cheese, beans or eggs.

As soon as you notice any side effects, speak with your nurse navigator and cancer care team to ensure you receive the best treatment for you throughout your journey.

2 Responses to “Being Prepared for Cancer Treatment Side Effects”

  1. Sarah Smith

    My aunt has breast cancer and we are trying to help her prepare for the treatment side effects. It’s good to know that the most common side effects are fatigue, nausea, and pain. Something else to know is that after treatment you are often on medication and that you should stay on those as they can help with the side effects.

    Reply
  2. Leviticus Bennett

    My sister was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, we caught it in Stage 1. I’m hoping the side-effects will be lighter because we caught it early on. Like you said, the types of side effects depend on treatment type, cancer type, cancer staging, etc.

    Reply

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