Side Effect Management

It helps to learn more about the side effects from your treatment(s) before you begin, so you will know what to expect. When you know more, you can work with your health care team to manage your quality of life during and after treatment.

There are effective and readily available medications to address traditional side effects from cancer treatment (such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation and mouth sores.) Also, as newer 'targeted therapies' become available, they tend to leave people with fewer traditional side effects.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to treatment and experiences side effects differently. There are coping mechanisms and strategies that can help.

Side Effects from Vaginal Treatments

Surgery

Vaginal Reconstruction
If all or most of the vagina must be removed, it is possible to reconstruct a vagina with tissue from another part of the body, which will allow a woman to have sexual intercourse. A new vagina can be surgically created out of skin, intestinal tissue, or myocutaneous (muscle and skin) grafts.

Lymphadenectomy Side Effects
Removing lymph nodes in the groin or pelvis can result in poor fluid drainage from the legs. The fluid builds up, leading to leg swelling that is severe and doesn’t go down at night when you are lying down. This is called lymphedema. Support stockings or special compression devices may help reduce swelling. Women with lymphedema need to be very careful to avoid infection in the affected leg or legs.

Radiation Therapy
During treatment by external radiation, the radiation kills the normal cells in the lining, which can lead to painful swallowing. This starts shortly after beginning treatment but typically improves within a few weeks of finishing. Side effects of external radiation therapy may include skin changes, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, painful sores in the mouth and throat and dry mouth or thick saliva

Most side effects of radiation are temporary, but some rare serious side effects can be permanent.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy has different side effects depending on the type and dose of drugs given and the length of time they are taken. These side effects can include hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, increased chance of infections (due to low white blood cell counts), easy bruising or bleeding (due to low blood platelet counts) and fatigue (due to low red blood cell counts.)

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