Fatigue busters for cancer-related fatigue

cancer-related fatigueWe all experience fatigue, but cancer-related fatigue can be particularly distressing as it oftentimes is not relieved with sleep and rest. Approximately 80% – 100% of patients with cancer experience fatigue, and it’s the most common side effect experienced by cancer patients.

With the holidays upon us, it’s the season for socializing and spending time with family and friends. With it can come a flurry of activity that can wear out the most energetic of individuals. Finding a balance is especially important for those with a diagnosis of cancer. Continue reading

Radiation therapy and burn concern

radiation therapyRadiation therapy may involve side effects, and symptoms can vary depending on the area treated. For example, a breast cancer patient may notice skin irritation on her chest, like a mild to moderate sunburn, while a patient with cancer in the mouth may have soreness when he swallows. Some patients who are having their midsection treated may report feeling sick to their stomach or diarrhea. I will be focusing on skin changes and self- care tips for patients receiving radiation therapy.

Why is the skin affected?

Radiation is especially effective on cells that Continue reading

Coping with shortness of breath

shortness of breathShortness of breath is something that we’ve all experienced. Typically this occurs when we exert ourselves, like running up a few flights of stairs. The feeling subsides quickly with rest. However, for many, shortness of breath is a daily struggle. It is estimated that 15%-55% of cancer patients experience shortness of breath, or dyspnea (the medical term.)

Dyspnea is described as an inability to get enough air, a feeling of smothering, tightness or suffocation. In cancer patients, it can be caused by the cancer or cancer treatment, or:

  • anemia
  • fluid build- up in the space between the lungs
  • tumor blocking the airway
  • radiation pneumonitis (inflammation of lungs caused by radiation therapy)
  • pneumonia
  • anxiety and stress

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Young men and the testicular cancer self-exam

testicular self-examWhile testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35, according to the Testicular Cancer Society. Generally men in this age group are robust and healthy, so cancer may be something they think only happens to other people. Educating men on the importance, as well as the technique, of testicular self-exam may help to reduce the incidence of this cancer.

Unlike the recommendations for breast self-exams beginning at age 20, and colon cancer screening beginning at age 50, neither the American Cancer Society nor Continue reading

Cancer and the crystal ball: How long do I have to live?

how long do I have to liveThis is perhaps the hardest question we are asked at the Cancer AnswerLine: “How long do I have to live?” This is not the most pleasant of conversations we encounter, but the nurses at the Cancer AnswerLine don’t dodge this question. Simply, we don’t always have an accurate answer to this important question and cannot provide callers with an exact time frame for life expectancy. Your physician may not be able to answer this question, either – sometimes there is no concrete answer.

When asked this question, we consider the following:

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Cancer prehabilitation

Steps you can take to prep for cancer treatment

cancer prehabilitationCancer prehabilitation, or prehab, is the process of improving a patient’s emotional and physical health in anticipation of upcoming treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Although not a new concept to medicine, it’s becoming an emerging component in cancer care. Preparing for the physical and emotional aspects of cancer treatment can improve outcomes and minimize side effects associated with cancer treatment. Continue reading