Managing The Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast cancer treatment has come a long way in recent years, and survival rates are better than ever. Most women are recommended for a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and sometimes hormone therapy. While these approaches are effective, they can also cause unwanted side effects. Thankfully, these side effects can be managed and controlled as described below.
Constipation and Diarrhea
The chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer can really mess with your digestive tract, leading to alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. The easiest way to manage this is to ensure you're getting plenty of fiber in your diet. The fiber will add bulk to your stool, helping to combat diarrhea, and it will also help keep material moving through your intestines, which will combat constipation. Switch all of your breads and cereals to whole-grain options. Eat fruits and veggies with every meal and as snacks, and leave the peels on when possible since they contain most of the fiber. Consider taking a psyllium husk supplement for extra fiber.
Hair loss is a common side effect with any chemo medication, but even more so with the chemotherapy drugs used for breast cancer. An easy way to combat hair loss is to wear a cold cap during chemo. This is basically a chilled cap that you keep in the freezer, and then wear on your head. It reduces circulation to your scalp, which keeps the chemotherapy drug from acting on your hair follicles.
Mouth sores are another common side effect of chemo. While you may not be able to prevent them completely, you can reduce your chances of developing mouth sores by taking vitamin supplements. Vitamins C and E are especially important, but taking a multivitamin is a good idea just to ensure your bases are covered. You can also help prevent mouth sores by being very gentle when brushing your teeth, and by using a softer toothbrush.
Joint and Bone Pain
When your joints and bones start aching after chemo, it is a good idea to soak in a hot bath, maybe with a few handfuls of Epsom salts tossed in. The warmth will increase circulation and help ease the pain. Taking calcium supplements will also help — this is yet another reason to take a multi-vitamin.
If you have any lingering concerns about the side effects of breast cancer treatment, talk to your doctor. They can tell you what has worked well for other patients.