Understanding and Coping With Chemotherapy Side Effects

Understanding and Coping With Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy, also called ‘Chemo’ is a part of cancer treatment procedure that uses drugs to kill the cancer cells. It targets those cells that divide and grow quickly in the body just as cancerous cells. But, as it wipes out the cancer cells, some healthy tissues/cells also get damaged by the chemotherapy. This results in undesirable side effects that patients often have to cope with.

Onco Life Cancer Centre is one of the renowned cancer hospitals known for offering best cancer treatments in the country. People looking for good oncologists for cancer treatment in Pune-Satara region highly prefer our services as we have successfully handled scores of cancer cases over the years. Our team of veteran doctors has helped many patients win their battle against cancer and resume normal healthy life.

Here we bring you to some vital information about chemotherapy, its side effects and how to manage it. Hope it helps you!

What Does Chemotherapy Do?

This depends upon the type and stage of cancer. However, chemotherapy is generally used in cancer treatment to achieve the following:

  • Cure: In some cases, the doctors use chemotherapy to destroy all the cancerous cells such that they never grow back again. Although it works in some cases, relapse of cancerous cells is unavoidable in several others.
  • Control: In some cases, the oncologist applies chemotherapy just to control the cancerous cells from spreading to the other parts of the body or slow the growth of cancer tumor.
  • Ease the Symptoms: When it can’t cure or control the spread of cancer, chemotherapy is used to shrink the tumor that causes pain.

While in some cases Chemotherapy can be used alone to destroy the cancerous tumor, in most of the other cases it is used in combination with other treatments like surgery, radiation therapy and biological therapy.

What are the Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is associated with different types of side effects. While most of the chemotherapy side effects go away shortly after the treatment, some side effects persist for several months or even longer. Your doctor generally gives you an idea of the side effects you are likely to have.

Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy the patients often face are:

  • Anemia
  • Bowel problems
  • Fertility issues
  • Fatigue
  • Hair/Nail/Skin changes
  • Infection/Fever
  • Memory loss
  • Menopause and menopausal symptoms
  • Mouth and throat sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Cognitive and mental health problems like depression &anxiety

How to Manage the Side Effects?

Each patient reacts differently to chemotherapy and its potential side effects. Fortunately, the doctors including cancer specialist in Pune, Mumbai and other major cities are now more confident in battling against these side effects. Here are some tips often suggested by these experts for overcoming the Chemo side effects:

  • Eat smaller meals at regular intervals rather than three big ones.
  • Avoid food with strong smell as it may bring on nausea.
  • Take rest and get enough sleep.
  • Include light exercise and meditation in your daily routine.
  • Keep your brain active; attend classes &lectures, solve puzzles etc
  • Consider trying acupuncture as some studies suggest this may help reduce tiredness after Chemo.
  • Use a daily planner to manage and remember your important appointments, names, addresses, numbers and to-do lists.
  • Take prescribed medicines without fail.
  • Follow doctors instructions and advices.

Apart from these, you also need to keep your doctor informed about your progress. Maintain a journal to record all symptoms and share the same with the concerned doctor. This will help your health care team to handle your case in the best possible way and provide you relief. Some of the vital details that you can include in your journal are:

  • The date and time when side effect occurs
  • Its duration
  • Its intensity- for instance, if you experience pain, how strong is it on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least amount of pain and 10 the most intense.
  • How your daily activities are getting affected.
  • Other concerns that may crop up between appointments with your doctor.

Good communication with your respective doctor will help you get the right medical attention at the right time.

Important Developments

Last few decades have witnessed remarkable progress in the development of medical treatments including supportive care that help prevent & control the side effects of cancer therapy. These developments in the medical fraternity have:

  • Led to notable improvements in the management of symptoms associated with cancer treatment.
  • Have made chemotherapy to be delivered with greater accuracy and consistency.
  • Have expanded the cancer treatment reach.

If your radiation oncologist in Pune or other city recommends you for chemotherapy treatment, do not get stressed out rather, prepare yourself for the new phase that will be challenging yet crucial for restoring your valuable life.  Your will power and positivity will make a lot of difference in this journey so never lose them.