Managing Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Everyone’s body, cancer diagnosis, and cancer treatment are unique. Talk to your doctor about what side effects are likely to occur and about ways to manage and treat them.  Here are some quick tips to help you deal with some side effects of treatment. Note that you may experience other side effects that are not listed or none of them at all. Your best resource is your health care team; they know your unique situation and will provide you with tailored advice to help make you more comfortable through your treatment.  

If you are experiencing:  Some ways to help manage are: 
 Fatigue
  • Organize your activities around your best times of the day where you have the most energy.
  • Incorporate exercise into those times of the day as well.
  • Eat and drink healthy foods, avoiding alcohol and greasy and fried foods.
  • Take time to rest as this is an important part of your recovery.  Do not feel guilty during rest days.
  • Notify your healthcare team if onset of fatigue is new and ask them for advice in regards to management.
 Pain
  • Track and monitor your pain including where the pain is located, if new, when it occurs, and what helps to alleviate the pain.
  • Talk to your doctor about using prescription and nonprescription drugs to help manage the pain.
 Sleep Changes 
  • Develop a consistent routine to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Reduce noise, dim lights, and distractions.
  • Exercise regularly, if you are able.
  • Talk to your medical team about sleep aids if your sleep is affected. 
Cognitive Changes  
  • Plan your day and schedule things that require the most concentration for when you feel best.
  • Stay organized by taking motes, recording things, using a calendar for important dates and a pill box for  your medication. 
  • Make time for physical activity as it can increase mental alertness. 
 Weight Loss 
  • Try and and increase your calorie intake with protein-laden foods that are healthy.
  • Eat multiple meals throughout the day and have snacks available for times when you get an appetite.
  • Perform weight-bearing exercises to prevent muscle loss (with clearance from your healthcare team).
 Weight Gain 
  • Evaluate your eating habits and activity level and try to identity areas of overeating or inactivity.
  • Incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine.
  • Limit your fat and sugar intake while increasing your fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Speak to your medical team about resources such as nutritionist, who can work with you directly to formulate an eating plan. 
Menopausal Symptoms for Women
  • Perform weight-bearing exercises to reduce risk of osteoporosis.
  • Do deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to help manage hot flashes.
  • Use vaginal lubricants, estrogen creams, or estrogen rings to help relive vaginal dryness. 

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