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Side Effects Management

It is important to talk with your doctor about possible side effects before you begin treatment. Everyone reacts differently to treatment and being prepared helps whether you experience problems or not.

Common side effects can include:

Potentially serious side effects of chemotherapy may include lowered white blood cell counts, which increase the risk of infection, and problems with heart function. If you now have or ever have had heart problems, be sure to tell your doctor to prevent complications.

Difficulty Breathing

It is common for people with lung cancer to have breathing problems. Breathing problems can be caused by the cancer, infection, certain chemotherapy drugs, fluid around the lungs or heart or a condition called radiation fibrosis.

Tips for breathing problems:

  • Call your doctor right away if you have a feeling of tightness in your chest, pain, fever or trouble breathing.
  • Ask your doctor about oxygen therapy, corticosteroid therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation to relieve breathing problems.
  • If you use an inhaler, be sure to do so exactly as your doctor prescribed. If inhalers are not used consistently over time, they will not relieve symptoms.
  • Sometimes having a fan in the room or having a cooler room temperature helps if you are having difficulty breathing.

Palliative Therapy

Palliative care can provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of cancer. It does not focus on curing the cancer, but is also not the same as hospice care. Palliative care is provided by a team of health care professionals who work together to provide an extra layer of support. The goal is to help the person with cancer live longer, shrink the tumor if possible, reduce or treat symptoms and improve quality of life.

Palliative therapy can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted cancer therapies, as well as pain management and oxygen therapy. As with any treatment, make sure you understand the goals, benefits and any downsides of palliative care before you make a decision.