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 Ovarian Treatments

Infection can occur after surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. Certain chemotherapy drugs have a more dramatic effect than others on the immune system by destroying not only the cancer cells, but healthy blood cells as well, including the white blood cells (called neutrophils) that help fight infection.

Because a serious infection can be potentially life threatening, requiring hospitalization and the delay of scheduled treatment, prevention and control are the primary tools to manage this serious side effect. Talk to your doctor before starting chemotherapy to discuss the risk of this potential side effect and to discuss medications such as white cell growth factors that could help you avoid prolonged periods of low white blood cell counts (neutropenia).

Call your doctor immediately if you have a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, pain, redness, swelling or pus at a surgical or central line site, severe chills, pain while urinating, or trouble breathing.

Practice good hand-washing techniques and avoid crowds or people who might have contagious conditions, such as the common cold, flu, chicken pox to name a few.

Radiation Therapy

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. In some cases, radiation to the chest can also cause lung damage, which may lead to problems breathing and shortness of breath.

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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