Most patients will experience some side effects from their treatment, but great progress has been made in treating or minimizing many of them. If you are experiencing side effects, please make sure to let your doctor or nurse know so they can track your progress and offer ways to help.
Here is a guide to the most common side effects and how to manage them.
It is very common for a person to feel anxious when facing a new or stressful situation. We all feel worried at times in our day-to-day lives. People may experience anxiety as nervousness, tension, panic, fear, or feeling like something bad is going to happen. Anxiety can also be experienced as physical symptoms such as upset stomach, sweaty palms, fast heartbeat, shaking, or flushed face.
Although it is normal to feel anxious when facing a life-threatening illness and intensive treatment, there are things that may help you decrease the feelings of anxiety or learn to cope with it. Most importantly, get professional help when you need it.
Report symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if you are experiencing:
It will help if you can learn how to cope with anxiety. Try these things, and see if it helps.
If anxiety doesn’t improve despite your efforts to reduce it, discuss it with your nurse, doctor, or social worker. Or ask for a referral to a mental health counselor.
Some people experience weight loss or gain, a loss of stamina, or skin reactions during their treatment. Though most of these side effects are temporary, they can still have an impact on your self-esteem. Paying attention to skin care, diet, exercise, and attitude are healthy ways to cope with body image changes. Finding ways to express your feelings about the changes is very important.
Cancer treatment can affect your body and your life in ways that are hard on your self-esteem. Weight loss or gain, loss of stamina, skin reactions, and puffy face can all be distressing if you think of your body as being who you are. Fortunately, most of these side effects of therapy are temporary.
The first step is to direct your energy and thoughts toward what you can and will do for yourself. Paying attention to skin care, diet, exercise, and attitude are healthy ways to cope with body image changes. Finding ways to express your feelings about the changes is very important.
Report symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if you are:
You may benefit by talking to your social worker or a mental health counselor.
Select skincare products that you like that are inexpensive, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and alcohol-free.
Fatigue is an unusual whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. During cancer treatment, fatigue can be caused by intensive treatments, medications, low levels of circulating red blood cells, and side effects. Learn what you can do at home to help.
Being tired is a very common experience for patients. Fatigue is a daily lack of energy, an unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. There are a number of things that cause fatigue: intensive treatment, medications, a lower-than-normal number of circulating red blood cells, stress, decreased nutrition, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, taste changes, heart burn, diarrhea, disruption of normal resting and sleep habits, or feelings of depression. It usually takes time to work out ways to live with fatigue.
Your caregiver should call 911 IMMEDIATELY if you, the patient, cannot be awakened.
Call your Fred Hutch clinic or the after-hours phone number NOW if you are:
Report symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if you experience:
There are ways to take care of yourself and deal with fatigue.
An important part of your care during cancer treatment is the care you will receive at home from yourself, your family, and your caregiver. Our patients and staff have developed a list of suggestions for managing care at home.
Here are some suggestions for managing care at home, developed by Fred Hutch patients and staff to help you.
The staff at Fred Hutch is here to support you as the patient and as the caregiver. Tell your physician or nurse if you need more support. Call your social worker for additional emotional support.
Changes in memory and concentration are common throughout treatment. In most cases, the changes are temporary. Your memory and concentration will improve after treatment is complete and you start feeling better. Until then, we have tips to help.
Changes in memory and concentration are common throughout treatment. In most cases, the changes will be temporary. Your memory and concentration will improve after your treatment is complete and when you start feeling better.
Memory and concentration problems may be situational and vary day by day due to stress, pain, medications, menopause, aging, and fatigue. Since you may have good and bad days, you may want to use routine strategies to assist you when you are having a bad day.
Call your Fred Hutch clinic or the after-hours phone number now if you feel:
Report these symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if you are:
If problems persist or affect day-to-day living to a large degree, discuss the symptoms with your nurse or doctor. Or, ask your nurse or doctor about a referral to a neurophysiologist, who evaluates memory.
Learn how to cope with temporary changes in memory and concentration
It is not unusual for patients to experience nausea and vomiting at some time during treatment. There are many new ways to help control and treat these side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
Many patients experience nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Contrary to what most people think, nausea and vomiting have little to do with your stomach. A number of things can trigger nausea and vomiting:
Great progress has been made in preventing and treating nausea and vomiting. Some patients have little or no nausea and vomiting and keep eating during most of the treatment process. Anti-nausea (antiemetic) medications are often started before radiation and chemotherapy and then continued on a regular schedule. Even if you do not feel nauseated, you should take the medications. The fact that you have not vomited means that the medicine is working. Many antiemetics can make you feel tired or sleepy. Some people will feel jittery and restless.
Call your Fred Hutch clinic or the after-hours phone number immediately if:
Report these symptoms to your doctor or nurse during clinic hours today if:
Follow these steps to prevent nausea and vomiting or manage symptoms well.
Taking care of your pain will help you sleep better, feel stronger, and manage your illness more effectively. Most pain can be treated with medication, treatments such as physical therapy, or both. Fred Hutch also has a pain clinic, which specializes in managing the complex pain related to cancer.