Chemotherapy

Did You Know?

OHC Did You Know - Oncology Medical Home
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Chemotherapy

Side Effects

How to Feel Better

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MEDICAL ONCOLOGY is the medical specialty for diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, biological therapy, and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist often is the main health care provider for someone who has cancer.

A medical oncologist is a highly trained physician who specializes in treating people with cancer, primarily through the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The medical oncologist is responsible for the care of that patient from the moment of diagnosis throughout the course of the disease.

Your OHC medical oncologist will:

  • Explain the cancer diagnosis and stage (the extent of the cancer)
  • Develop, discuss, deliver, and direct all treatment options, a recommended treatment strategy, and a multi-disciplinary care team who specialize in different areas of care but work together
  • Maintain the patient’s quality of life by managing pain and other symptoms or side effects such as constipation, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue
  • Listen to the patients needs while delivering the world-class quality and compassionate care
 

CHEMOTHERAPY (also called “chemo”) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. Depending on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, chemotherapy can be used to cure cancer, control cancer, or ease cancer symptoms.

Sometimes, chemotherapy is used as the only cancer treatment. But more often, you will get chemotherapy along with surgery, radiation therapy, or biological therapy.

Chemotherapy can:

  • Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy
  • Destroy cancer cells that may remain after surgery or radiation therapy
  • Help radiation therapy and biological therapy work better
  • Destroy cancer cells that have come back (recurrent cancer) or spread to other parts of your body (metastatic cancer)

Treatment schedules for chemotherapy vary widely. How often and how long you get chemotherapy will depend on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, the goals of your treatment, the type of chemo used, and how your body reacts to it.

 

SIDE EFFECTS are common during chemotherapy treatment. But not everyone will experience every side effect. The effects that you experience depend on the type and dose of your chemotherapy and whether you have other health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease.

The following side effects are listed in alphabetical order (not in order of likelihood or severity):

Anemia
Appetite changes
Bleeding
Constipation
Diarrhea
Eye changes
Fatigue
Flu-like symptoms
Fluid retention
Hair loss
Infection
Infertility
Mouth and throat changes
Nausea and vomiting
Nervous system changes
Pain
Sexual changes
Skin and nail changes
Taste changes
Urinary, kidney, and bladder changes
 

HERE ARE SOME TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU FEEL BETTER throughout your chemotherapy treatments:

  • Sleep at least 8 hours each night and take 1-2 short naps during the day.
  • Eat 5-6 small meals or snacks each day instead of three big meals. Choose foods and drinks that are high in calories and protein. For those with diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods.
  • Drink at 8-12 cups of water or other fluids every day. Warm or hot fluids (coffee or tea) seem to help with constipation.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Do so before cooking and eating, and after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or touching animals. Carry hand sanitizer with you.
  • Keep your mouth moist. And be careful what you eat when your mouth is sore. Choose foods that are soft, and easy to chew and swallow liked cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.

These are just some of the many, many ways to help you feel better during your treatment. So talk to you OHC physician or nurse. They will provide you with a full list of tips that are specific to your symptoms.

 

For more information on Medical Oncology and chemotherapy and other treatments, talk to your OHC physician or nurse. Or check out some of the these other valuable resources:

American Cancer Society

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Cancer.Net

National Cancer Institute

WebMD