How Is Your Health?

Easing Chemotherapy Adverse Reactions

by Camila Davidson

If you were diagnosed with breast cancer, then your oncologist will determine the best breast cancer treatment services based upon the stage and type of your tumor. Treatment options for breast cancer may include surgical intervention, radiation therapy, hormonal treatment, and chemotherapy. While chemotherapy can help reduce your risk for recurrence, it can cause significant adverse reactions. Here are some things that may help ease the adverse reactions from chemotherapy. 

Anti-Nausea Medications

While some chemotherapy patients resist taking their anti-nausea medication because the drugs can cause significant drowsiness and fatigue, these prescription medications are highly effective in relieving nausea and vomiting. It is essential that chemotherapy patients be able to eat and drink because if they are unable to do so as a result of nausea and vomiting, dehydration can quickly develop.

Some patients who become dehydrated require hospitalization so that they can be intravenously rehydrated. Severe dehydration can raise the risk for cardiac arrhythmia and blood pressure abnormalities, which both can be life-threatening in people suffering from cancer. If you are unable to take your prescription anti-nausea medication for some reason, your physician may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine to help quell your nausea and vomiting. 

Oral Care

In addition to nausea and vomiting, mouth sores are also very common in people being treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy. In some people, the mouth sores are only mildly irritating and do not impair the ability to eat or drink, however, other people develop mouth sores that are so painful that they cannot continue with their treatment.

Mouth sores associated with chemotherapy treatment can cause severe burning sensations, taste abnormalities, swallowing difficulty, and even difficulty breathing. Your doctor may recommend products or medications that coat the lining of your oral cavity so that irritation is minimized during eating.

Topical analgesic gels can also help relieve the pain of your mouth sores, as can over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. In addition to these interventions, your oncologist may recommend that you avoid spicy foods, smoking, and alcohol because they can further irritate the mucus membranes inside your mouth. If your mouth sores become infected, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, an antibacterial oral rinse, or a combination of both.

If you suffer from adverse reactions or side effects from your breast cancer treatment, let your physician know as soon as possible. The sooner your side effects are treated, the more likely you will be to better tolerate your treatment so that you can look forward to a favorable prognosis.