Cancer is a disease that affects people differently. Some constipate, others face severe diarrhea problems, and all these side effects must be managed carefully for the patient’s wellbeing. There are different kinds of cancer depending on where the uncontrollably abnormal cell division(tumor) occurs. When treated early as any other illness or condition, one can actually be cured. However, cancer treatment can have some side effects depending on the individual’s immune response. Here we have constipation in cancer patients as a side effect of cancer and its treatment to see how we should deal with it.
What causes Constipation in cancer patients
Constipation is an irregular pattern of bowel movement that happens when the stool is difficult to pass as it becomes painful, less frequent, and dry. This can be quite an uncomfortable condition because the body absorbs more water and signals food to pass through the bowels. Constipation in cancer patients can go hand in hand with various treatments meant for the disease. A cancer patient may experience constipation due to the following reasons:
- A lack of enough fluids in the digestive system.
- Minimal to little physical exercise and body activities as it affects digestive ingestion patterns.
- Tumors in your pelvis, belly or allergenic reactions to various types of cancer treatments.
- Cancer medication may also lead to constipation issues. Pain medicine for instance may cause muscle slowness in the digestive system leading to more difficulty when passing stool.
Other medications used to prevent nausea, dizziness, vomiting, high blood pressure, diarrhea may affect the digestive track as well. These include chemotherapy drugs, iron supplements, and other drugs.
How do you know that you are constipating?
Sometimes we may not distinguish between when one is experiencing constipation due to cancer or other conditions. However, the body reaction and symptoms are similar in either case. Here are ways to know that you are constipated:
- Feeling nausea and vomiting
- Hard pellet-like bowel movement
- Frequently stomach gas passing
- Stomachaches or crumps
- Having irregular bowel patterns
Remedies for Constipation in Cancer Patients
For any health condition, one needs to figure out basic aid remedies that they can use to stay healthy and ease colon cancer constipation. These are basic tips you need to know:
- Drink lots of fluids. Dehydration is the cause of most constipation cases and taking fluids can make one feel better and stay hydrated. It’s recommended that you take at least 8 glasses of water daily.
- Keeping your body active as much as possible can real make a difference on your immune system. Walk, run, work errands, or engage in any other sort of exercise to change your ingestion patterns.
- Intake of high-fiber foods. Constipation is generally reduced by eating and taking substance with high fiber, but this may also be an issue in case you have gone through intestinal surgery. Remember to consult Rachel Spenser, our Registered Dietitian on OncoPower. Here are some tips on how to use nutrition to manage constipation,
- Avoid taking wrong medicines. Some constipation medicines may have severe impacts on cancer patients by causing bleeding and other side effects. Therefore, it is always a good idea to learn about your medicine.
Since cancer is a serious illness, applying these remedies should always be after consultation with your healthcare provider. Make sure they let you know how to keep track of your bowel movements, steps you can take to feel better, prescriptions, and any other essential dos and don’ts because they understand your condition better. You can watch a educational video on cancer-related constipation and oncologist’s recommendation to manage it on OncoPower app.
Metastatic Ovarian Cancer, also known as stage four ovarian cancer, is an advanced malignancy originating from the ovary and spreading to distant body parts, including the liver, lungs, spleen, and intestines, among others.
The spread occurs once cancer cells have detached from the primary tumor in the ovary and then move through a passive mechanism (with the help of physiological movement of peritoneal fluid to the peritoneum and omentum). This point suggests that the peritoneum is the first point of metastatic ovarian cancer metastasis before it reaches other distant body parts. Once diagnosed, it is important to understand metastatic ovarian cancer prognosis and if the disease is curable.
Doctors use a five-year survival rate to estimate the metastatic ovarian cancer prognosis of their patients. According to research, most women diagnosed with metastatic ovarian cancer have a five-year survival rate of about 17 percent. Note that this data is based on studies of other people, so it cannot be used to predict an individual’s survival rate.
Moreover, there are several other factors that influence an individual’s ordeal with metastatic ovarian cancer. Such factors include the woman’s general health, how her cancer responds to treatment and if they have other underlying health conditions, especially HIV.
Generally, concerning the metastatic ovarian cancer life expectancy of the entire globe, about 3 in 4 women live for at least one-year post ovarian cancer diagnosis. Moreover, about 45 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer at its early stages can survive for more than two years before the cancer starts to metastasize. Metastatic ovarian cancer life expectancy also depends on the patient’s age since it has been found that women under 65 years live longer with it compared to those who contract it after 65 years.
Symptoms and Treatment
Patients usually experience metastatic ovarian cancer symptoms, which include abdominal distention and discomfort, persistent bloating, urgency and frequency of urination, as well as a loss of appetite. These symptoms are the general ones that nearly all patients would experience.
However, some symptoms can be specific to an individual and according to the secondary site of metastatic ovarian cancer metastasis. Also, note that some of the symptoms above can manifest for another type of disease, so it does not necessarily mean that you have metastatic ovarian cancer. However, if you are experiencing anything linked to metastatic ovarian cancer symptoms, you are advised to see a gynecologic oncologist for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
The liver is the most affected site of stage four cancer metastasis, not only for metastatic ovarian cancer but also for other carcinomas. Metastases to the liver are easily notable since their symptoms are typically unbearable. These symptoms include the ones listed below;
• Itchy skin
• Loss of appetite and vomiting
• Bloated belly
• Leg swelling
• Pian in the right upper part of the abdomen
• Yellowing and whitening of skin parts (jaundice)
According to autopsy studies on people who died of ovarian cancer, 42- 73 percent of the whole population had their cancer spread to the liver. Overall, ovarian cancer metastasis to the liver life expectancy is about 30 months for patients with single liver metastasis and with treatment. Those without treatment can live for just eight months or less. This number comes from follow-up studies on liver metastasis which showed that tumors on the liver take between 60-200 days to grow. A doctor can predict one’s life expectancy based on their circumstances.
Metastatic Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Is it possible to cure metastatic ovarian cancer? Here is a response from Dr. Ruchi Garg, a gynecologic oncologist on OncoPower. Metastatic ovarian cancer treatment focuses on controlling the disease for a long time while relieving one from pain and other controllable symptoms. Treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Before deciding on a treatment plan, the doctor would consider many options, for instance, once, general health and how they might respond to some therapy. However, the most common metastatic ovarian cancer treatment plan involves chemotherapy before, and after surgery, a method doctors call interval debulking surgery (IDS). Also, one can undergo chemotherapy after surgery. Alternatively, some patients can just undergo chemotherapy without any surgery. This happens when the tumor is not so advanced. Note that there are some targeted cancer drugs, for instance, bevacizumab which is meant for very advanced cancers and is taken together with chemotherapy. You can also consult an oncologist and other specialists 24/7 with OncoPower Ask-A-Doc service to get guidance on how monitor and manage metastatic ovarian cancer.
Metastatic colon cancer is stage four colon cancer that has advanced and spread to other parts of the body, typically the lymph nodes and liver but may also spread to distant body parts, including the brain. It is the third most common cancer in the United States, excluding skin carcinomas. Doctors can easily treat colon cancer during its early stages, but upon metastasis, it becomes very hard to do away with the disease. According to research on metastatic colon cancer prognosis, the five-year survival rate of patients with metastatic colon cancer was 14 percent. As much as this percentage looks frightening, it still does not cover other factors influencing metastatic colon cancer life expectancy, including the person’s age, type of treatment they undergo, their overall immunity, and presence of an underlying chronic health condition like HIV. However, this data describes results from the past. With the improved technology and research, there is a chance that healthcare personnel will come up with ways to improve the above survival rate.
Treatment for metastatic colon cancer needs a tailored approach and largely depends on the person’s symptoms and degree of progression. Knowing where cancer spreads and its specific symptoms are vital when beginning metastatic colon cancer treatment therapy.
Symptoms and treatment
A person with colon cancer might not show any symptoms at its early stages. However, symptoms begin to show once the cancer has metastasized to other areas. Some general metastatic colon cancer symptoms include weakness, fatigue, abdominal pain, unintended weight loss, rectal bleeding, dark red stools, and melena. In addition to the above symptoms, other symptoms come when cancer has adapted to a secondary site. These secondary symptoms vary depending on the part of metastasis.
Spread to the liver
The liver is the common site of Metastatic colon cancer spread. The doctor can find liver metastasis when diagnosing a patient with metastatic colon cancer. Also, liver metastasis can come about while one is undergoing treatment for stage four colon cancer. Some individuals with metastatic colon cancer spread to the liver usually don’t show symptoms. Others may show symptoms including blood in stool, epigastric pain, swelling on your belly, tiredness, weight loss, and feeling sick. An oncologist would look at your liver functions to confirm that metastatic colon cancer has affected your liver. Diagnostic tests for colon cancer spread to the liver include CT scans, liver biopsy, MRIs, and positron emission tomography.
Even though colon cancer has spread to the liver, the tumor in the liver is still made of colon cells. Therefore, the doctor would treat it as colon cancer, not liver cancer. Treatment options include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgeries to remove the colon and some parts of the liver. Colon cancer may block the intestine; in this case, a doctor would insert a tube called a stent to open up the blockage. Patients with just one tumor in the liver have the highest survival rates than those who seek medical attention when their conditions worsen. Some patients may become unlucky when metastasis to the liver comes after colostomies.
Spread to the lungs
Just like colon cancer spreads to the liver, doctors treat colon cancer metastasis to the lung differently from lung cancer. They usually prefer surgical excision using minimally invasive techniques in combination with chemotherapy to do away with colon cancer tumors in the lungs. It is important to note that lung metastasis is tailored down to an individual patient. The therapeutical method depends on which part of the lung cancer has been affected, the patient’s individual health, and other factors. Moreover, the patient can choose the type of treatment they prefer.
Newer methods of treating colon cancer metastasis to the lung include radiofrequency ablation, stereotactic therapy, and cryotherapy, among other traditional methods. Common metastatic colon cancer spreads to the lung symptoms include coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest infections, and pleural effusion. Due to the above side effects of metastasis and treatment techniques, metastatic colon cancer life expectancy was very low, with a mean survival rate of just nine months when one receives the best supportive care. However, with 5-FU/LV, the average survival rate improved to 12 months. Furthermore, with a combination of 5-FU/LV and irinotecan or oxaliplatin, metastatic colon cancer life expectancy improved to between 14 and 19 months. You can also consult an oncologist and other specialists 24/7 with OncoPower Ask-A-Doc service to get guidance on how monitor and manage metastatic colon cancer.
Metastatic lung cancer is a carcinoma that begins in the lungs and spreads to other body parts. Note that this is a stage of cancer, typically stage four of lung cancer rather than a form of cancer, so this name would not change when the carcinoma affects a new area, for instance, the brain or the bone. When one is suffering from lung cancer and cancer affects the liver, it would be metastatic lung cancer.
However, one may also suffer from lung cancer and develop cancer in the liver. In that case, it won’t be metastatic lung cancer but liver cancer (it is important to understand these two situations). Also, it is essential to differentiate lung metastasis from metastatic lung cancer. In metastatic lung cancer, the pathologist would always see lung cancer cells on the infected lung and the secondary affected site, for instance, on the bone. In contrast, in the case of lung metastasis, the pathologist would find foreign cancerous cells on the lung. This suggests that in lung metastasis, the lung acts as the secondary site of metastasis from another part of the body, for example, the breast. For that reason, a tissue biopsy is vital in the course of cancer treatment so that you don’t end up treating the wrong cancer.
Causes of Metastatic Lung Cancer
Lung cancer hardly shows any symptoms in its early stages. One can live with lung cancer for a very long time, and by the time the doctors diagnose it, it has metastasized to other parts of the body. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in active and passive smokers. However, lung cancer can still affect those not exposed to smoke. In such cases, the cancer cause is not clear. Still, doctors would associate it t other causes such as exposure to radiation therapy, radon gas, asbestos, or a family history of lung cancer.
According to various studies, metastatic lung cancer prognosis is very poor. Doctors usually express life expectancy in 5-year survival rates by using the number of people alive after five years of being diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. The survival rates differ depending on whether the cancer is a small or non-small cell lung cancer. For metastatic small cell lung cancer, the survival rate after five years is as low as 3 percent, while for metastatic non-small cell cancer, the survival rate is a bit higher, at 6 percent.
According to research, the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer ranges from 6.3 months to 11.4 months. This data suggest that these patients hardly live for more than one year. Many factors directly influence metastatic lung cancer life expectancy. Majority of the factors that often lead to the adverse outcome include;
• Tobacco smoking
• Old age
• How aggressive is the carcinoma?
• Gender (being male)
• Congestive heart failure and other cardiac conditions
• Underlying health conditions like HIV
The above factors have direct effects on metastatic lung cancer.
Symptoms and Treatment
Since lung cancer is hardly notable, most patients usually start treatment once cancer has metastasized to other body parts since that is when you will start feeling the symptoms. Metastatic lung cancer symptoms vary depending on the secondary affected part of your body. General symptoms of stage four lung cancer include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, hoarseness, wheezing, and unexplained weight loss with severe weakness and fatigue. If metastatic lung cancer has moved to the bone, one will experience bone and joint pains and be very susceptible to fractures. If it moves to the brain, one will experience confusion, severe headache, tiredness, and in some cases, seizures. For liver metastasis, one will have jaundice, epigastric pain, nausea after eating, and vomiting, which might be blood-stained. These symptoms are usually severe and would force one to seek medical attention.
After looking at metastatic lung cancer symptoms, it is vital to also be aware of lung metastasis symptoms since these are two very similar but different conditions. Lung metastasis symptoms include the following;
• Bringing up blood when coughing
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Fluid accumulation around the lung
• Weight loss
• Pain in the ribs
Metastatic lung cancer treatment focuses on controlling cancer growth and relieving the symptoms since it can be very difficult to eliminate. Based on various metastatic lung cancer diagnostic studies like CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound scans, X-rays, blood tests, and organ biopsies, doctors would treat the condition depending on the location of metastasis, previous medical interventions, and the severity of the condition. Common treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, laser therapy, and other medications that control pain. You can also consult an oncologist and other specialists 24/7 with OncoPower Ask-A-Doc service to get guidance on how monitor and manage metastatic lung cancer.
Cancer is a devastating disease. And unfortunately, it’s still a big issue. Out of 100,000 men and women, around 442 of them will get cancer every year. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll have to see an oncologist for your treatment.
What is an oncologist? An oncologist is a doctor that specializes in cancer treatment. Finding the right oncologist can be tricky, simply because there are so many types of oncologists. The oncologist you see will depend on the type of cancer you have as well as your treatment.
Which type of oncologist is right for you? Here, we will cover the different types of oncologists and how they can help with your condition.
The Role of the Oncologist
Before covering the different types of oncologists, let’s look more at this type of doctor and how they assist cancer patients.
An oncologist diagnoses and treats different types of cancer. They will also manage a patient’s care throughout the course of the disease, which also includes reducing any side effects they experience from the disease and treatment.
A proper diagnosis follows specific steps:
- Identifying the type of cancer and stage
- Exploring treatment options
- Managing side effects and symptoms
Cancer is a debilitating and scary disease. That’s why your oncologist will be more than your doctor — they can serve as a support system. An oncologist is a unique doctor because they have special training in delivering high-quality care while showing compassion.
A typical oncologist has a specialty team that consists of:
- Oncology social worker
- Oncology nurse
- Doctors in other areas of medicine
- And more
All of these professionals are devoted to delivering the best care.
Types of Oncologists
Now that we have a better understanding of the oncologist, let’s look at the different types of oncologists. Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list.
If you’ll need surgery, you’ll visit a surgical oncologist. They specialize in removing cancerous tumors as well as nearby tissue.
There are also surgical oncologists who specialize in certain operations for specific types of cancer. For example, otolaryngologists treat cancers of the head and neck while urologists perform surgeries for those with prostate cancer.
A surgical oncologist can also diagnose cancer, performing a biopsy. However, they may only be able to diagnose certain types of cancer.
After receiving their doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), surgical oncologists will spend the next several years in a surgical residency program. Many graduates pursue general surgical oncology before choosing a specialty.
If chemotherapy falls into your treatment plan, you’ll need to see a medical oncologist. They may also give other treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Medical oncologists also prescribe medications that will alleviate any side effects and symptoms you’re experiencing.
Even if you’re not undergoing chemotherapy or another medical procedure, many use a medical oncologist as their primary specialist. They can coordinate care with other doctors and monitor your treatment.
After receiving their MD or DO, a medical oncologist completes an internal medicine or pediatrics residency that lasts approximately three years. From here, they join an oncology fellowship that lasts another three years.
This oncologist treats cancer specifically with radiation therapy. They may the area that needs to be treated, calculating the dose as well as the number of needles needed.
You may need radiation therapy for a couple of reasons. If you need surgery, radiation will eradicate any cancer cells you may have. If you received palliative care, radiation can be used to ease any pain you have. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is also used to treat specific tumors and other cancers in stages of metastasis.
After receiving their MD or DO, a radiation oncologist spends five-to-six years in a radiation oncology residency program.
Unfortunately, cancer can also occur in children and teenagers. This specialist treats cancer in children. Some cancers they can treat include leukemia, brain tumors, Ewing’s sarcoma, and osteosarcoma.
Even though a pediatric oncologist is specialized to work with children, they can also work with adults. Some cancers occur more commonly in children than adults. If an adult is diagnosed with these specific cancers, they can opt to visit a pediatric oncologist for treatment.
These oncologists specialize in gynecologic cancers (cancer of the woman’s reproductive organs). These include ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancers.
After receiving their MD or DO, a gynecologic oncologist undergoes obstetrics and gynecology residency. From here, they pursue their training through a gynecologic oncology fellowship. Here, they receive training on chemotherapeutic, surgical, and radiation techniques.
This oncologist specializes in blood cancers. They can diagnose and treat them. Common examples of blood cancers include lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma. They have extra training in the human blood system as well as the bone marrow and lymphatic systems.
The Oncologist You’ll See by Cancer Type
The oncologist you see depends on the type of cancer you have. Fortunately, you can see a medical oncologist for many types of cancer, such as bladder cancer and breast cancer.
Depending on the treatment, your radiation oncologist will be your main oncologist. This may be the case if you have a type of cancer such as brain cancer; radiation will stop or slow the growth of brain tumors.
You may also have to see specialized surgeons for many of your treatments. For example, if you have colorectal cancer and need surgery, you’ll see a colorectal surgeon. If you need surgery for liver cancer, you’ll see a hepatobiliary surgeon.
How Do You Find the Best Types of Oncologists?
Now that you know the different types of oncologists, you may be wondering how to find the best one. Don’t worry, we make this process easy. We provide access to oncologists for free 24/7. Register today!
Headache is a very common problem. It is also a symptom many cancer patients experience, whether alone or with other symptoms.
There are two types of headache depending on the cause;
- Primary headache; this is the type of headache mostly caused or aggravated by stress, like tension headache, migraine headache, and cluster headache.
- Secondary headache; is the headache that happens as a result of other problems affecting the brain like brain tumors, infections, or medications.
Both types of headache can affect cancer patients, thus the headaches you might experience can vary in site, type and severity according to the cause.
The most common causes of headache in cancer patients include:
1- If the cancer is originally in the brain, spinal cord or pituitary gland tumors, or tumors in other places that had spread to the brain.
2- As a side-effect of chemotherapy, brain radiation therapy or other cancer treatments.
3- As a side-effect of other medications, such as high blood pressure treatments, antibiotics or antiemetics.
4- Cancer related conditions as anemia or dehydration.
6- Stress, anxiety, fatigue, poor appetite and sleep.
5- Infections as sinusitis or meningitis.
How to manage headaches:
If you started having new headaches, you must tell your healthcare team about them.
- Describe how frequent and severe they are, the exact site, if they occur at certain times of the day, describe if they were sharp, throbbing, dull or pressure like, and whether you are having any other symptoms as well.
- Symptoms your doctor would want to know if you have are:
- Blurring of vision
- Pain and stiffness in your neck that is worse by moving
- Limb weakness, change in your sensations, or inability to talk.
- Poor appetite and decreased fluid intake.
- Fatigue, looking pale, decreased activity, or shortness of breath.
- Talk to your doctor if you have low mood or feeling anxious.
- Your team can order some tests to rule out some of the causes as:
- Blood tests can tell whether or not you are having anemia.
- Brain imaging like CT or MRI scans, in case of suspected new brain mass or change in size of an old mass.
- Talk to your healthcare team about you medication list and their possible side-effects.
- If possible, your doctors will treat the conditions causing you headache like giving antibiotics for infections, or iron supplement for anemia.
- Your doctors might also prescribe medications for headache, depending on its type and cause. These medications might include; paracetamol, non steroidal anti-inflammatory as ibuprofen, triptans, antidepressants, steroids in case of brain cancer or cancer spread,
Tips to help you cope with headaches:
- Eat an adequate healthy diet and drink enough fluids to prevent fatigue and anemia.
- Sleep well and give your body the rest it needs.
- Avoid noisy or crowded places when you are experiencing the headache.
- Avoid stress and tell your doctors if you’re having low mood.
- If you are also experiencing dizziness, make sure your house is safe and organized to avoid the risk of falling.
- Certain techniques can help you cope with headaches including relaxation, yoga, massage, ask your doctors about their availability and if they will be helpful in your case.
- Tell your doctor if headache is becoming more frequent or severe, if it changes in character or doesn’t go away.
Feel free to watch this video as many times as you would like. If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to reach out to your doctor’s office.
- Hair loss is a very stressful symptom in cancer patients.
- It usually occurs as a treatment side effect.
- Not necessarily all patients receiving cancer treatments develop hair loss. Also some drugs have higher risk than others
- The amount of hair loss also differs among patients. It depends on the drug you take, its dose and even the way you receive it, whether as a pill or through veins.
Causes in cancer patients are:
- Some chemotherapy medications
- Hormonal therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Some targeted therapy medications
- Anemia, poor nutrition, thyroid problems, stress and anxiety can also cause hair loss in cancer patients.
- Chemotherapy drugs usually cause hair loss throughout the body, this includes scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, arms, legs, underarms and pubic area.
- Targeted therapy doesn’t cause complete hair loss, but hair may become thinner or drier.
- Radiotherapy only causes localized hair loss at the site of exposure. With higher radiation doses, the regrown hair might be thinner or with different texture than the original hair.
- Hormonal therapy can affect hair after several years of therapy. However it does not cause complete hair loss.
- Hair loss as a side-effect of cancer treatments doesn’t start right away with starting treatment but takes weeks to start.
- Hair loss is usually temporary. Patients start regrowing hair back usually 1-3 months after ending treatment.
- It usually takes 6-12 months for new hair to completely grow back. New hair may be thinner or thicker, may have different color than the normal hair but usually returns to its normal in the following years.
How to cope with hair loss:
- Hair loss can cause social and emotional distress for many patients. It’s important to deal with it as a major problem that affects quality of life.
- It is also important for patients to understand the time needed for their body to heal, and use the coping mechanisms until that happens.
- Talk to your healthcare team to understand the amount of risk of hair falling with your cancer treatment.
- Use gentle shampoo to wash your hair, do not wash it everyday or scrub it vigorously.
- Use wide-toothed comb and pat your hair dry to avoid any damage.
- A shorter haircut can help you care for your hair, and help your hair taking less time to grow back.
- Avoid blow-drying your hair with heat, hair straightener or curler, and chemical hair products and dyes.
- Cover your head to protect it from the sun, and use sunscreen over areas with hair loss.
- Talk to your doctors about vitamin supplements that can help your hair become stronger and grow back.
- Talk to your doctors about scalp cryotherapy or cold cap therapy. This type of therapy helps preventing hair loss from chemotherapy drugs given into veins. It works through narrowing the scalp blood vessels at time of chemotherapy infusion thus reducing the amount reaching the scalp.
- You can use Natural looking wigs and hairpieces pieces. You can style them the way you want until your hair grows back to normal. Insurance companies may cover for them as well. Or you can use other options include fashionable scarfs.
- Care for the regrowing hair the same way. You can also ask your doctor about hair growing medications as minoxidil, as well as vitamins, creams and lotions.
- Follow your doctors’ instructions on caring for associated problems as treating anemia and nutritional deficiencies.
- Support groups can help you express your emotions and let out your feelings. Use all the support you can get and give your body time to heal.
Feel free to watch this video as many times as you would like. If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to reach out to your doctor’s office.
Causes of cancer related fatigue include:
- Cancer Itself.
- Aggressive cancer treatments as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or as a side-effect of other non-cancer drugs.
- Drugs that make you drowsy.
- Lack of sleep.
- Anxiety or mental stress.
- Other side-effects of drugs as vomiting or diarrhea resulting in dehydration, or loss of appetite. This can cause loss of nutrients and fatigue.
Fatigue due to cancer or as side-effect of cancer treatment is different from any other. You may feel that it is always accompanying you and nothing is making it go away completely, even rest and sleep.
How can you cope with fatigue?
- Have better quality sleep time:
-Making your priority to have good night sleep.
-Lie in bed for sleep only, and avoid noise caused by electronic devices and television.
-Take frequent naps as much as your body needs.
-Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed time.
- Exercising can boost your energy and make you feel better. -Plan ahead a daily schedule for simple exercises.
-Choose the exercise that suits you and don’t strain yourself. -Simple exercises as walking each day even if inside your house, swimming, cycling or yoga are very beneficial.
- Maintain a routine during the day for activity and rest, and distract yourself with simple activities.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in protein, calories, vitamins and iron, and drink a lot of fluids. Talk to your doctor if you need dietary consultation.
- Talk to your doctor if you are feeling sad or depressed, some medications can help you feel better, also keep your support system of family or friends close.
- Talk to your doctor about any other uncontrolled symptom that can be contributing to your fatigue. As pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or loss of appetite.
- Support groups and talk therapy have been proved to control cancer-associated fatigue. Talking about your feelings of fatigue, depression or any fears can help you get through it.
Dizziness is a symptom many cancer patients experience.
If you feel dizzy, you might feel that the room is spinning around you or that you have lost your balance.
Dizziness can be related to cancer and its medications or other problems you might also be having.
Cancer-related causes include:
1- Chemotherapy. Many chemotherapy drugs include dizziness as one of their side-effects.
2- Anemia. Cancer and many treatments can cause anemia. When you have anemia you brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients which causes your feeling of dizziness.
3- Inadequate eating or drinking, also nausea and vomiting can cause your feeling of dizziness.
4- If the tumor in the brain or have reaches the brain, this might be the cause of dizziness.
Other causes for dizziness include:
1- Changes in your blood pressure.
2- Changes in your blood sugar.
5- Ear problems.
6- Other medications.
- If you experienced dizziness, call your healthcare team, your team will need to find out possible causes and rule out anything serious as dehydration, stroke, low blood sugar or even tumor spread to the brain.
- Tell your healthcare team about any other symptoms you are experiencing, particularly if you have nausea, vomiting, blurring of vision, hearing problems, headache, diarrhea, feeling cold, sweaty or chills.
- Make sure your healthcare team knows about all the drugs you are taking.
- Once your doctor find the cause of dizziness, they will be able to reach the plan for managing it.
- Call your doctor if any symptoms are bothering you or don’t go away.
Here are Some tips to help you cope with dizziness:
1- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids, try to drink up to 10 glasses each day.
2- Avoid drinks with too much caffeine.
3- Have adequate nutrition.
4- Avoid standing or changing positions too fast.
5- Be careful on walking, make sure you hold on the railing while walking downstairs.
6- Avoid driving if you feel dizzy more often.
Feel free to watch this video as many times as you would like. If you have any additional questions, you are welcome to reach out to your doctor’s office.
Diarrhea is a common side-effect of cancer treatment.
It is either caused by chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs.
Other causes in cancer patients can be; radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis, or infections.
Diarrhea can be complicated if not managed properly, Complications include:
- Dehydration and loss of minerals.
- Fluid and mineral loss if severe, may cause heart or kidney failure.
- Malnutrition and weight loss.
- Persistent diarrhea may affect treatment course by dose reduction, delaying or discontinuing of treatment.
Management of diarrhea:
- Report diarrhea to your health care provider. It is necessary to exclude serious causes for diarrhea as infections.
Some symptoms should also be reported as they are considered warning signs if existed with diarrhea, they indicate infection or dehydration.
- Severe abdominal pain
- Blood in stool
- Dizziness on standing
- Feeling of thirst
- Decreased amount of urine
- Stool incontinence
- If your diarrhea is less than 6 times a day, with no warning symptoms:
-Your doctor will prescribe a drug called Imodium (or Loperamide) capsules, Start with 2 capsules (4 mg), then take 1 capsule (2mg) every 4 hours or after each loose stools, up to 8 capsules (16 mg) in a day.
-Loperamide should be continued for 12 hours after resolution of diarrhea.
- If diarrhea persisted for more than 24 hours or became worse, call your doctor o exclude any complication, the dose of loperamide can be increased starting with 2 capsules (4 mg) then 1 capsule (2 mg) every 2 hours. If you develop any of the symptoms above, tell your doctor immediately.
- To cope with diarrhea and prevent its complications:
- Remember to drink no less than 10 glasses of water each to replace the fluids lost.
- If you were taking any stool softeners, don’t forget to stop taking them.
– Avoid food and drinks that worsens diarrhea as fatty, spicy food, milk products, coffee and alcohol.
– Do not avoid eating. Instead you can increase the intake of food that improves diarrhea, as the BRAT diet, which is a diet consisting of Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast, is thought to help in controlling diarrhea. Increase intake of clear fluids as water, broth, and clear juices.