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Managing Cancer Symptoms

It is important for you to be aware of changes in your body that may be related to your cancer. Stay alert to aches and pains, changes in your body functions, or changes in your appearance. Make notes of these symptoms, then discuss them promptly with your care team.
There are other important steps you can take to ensure the most effective management of your cancer symptoms.
  • Stay on course with your treatment schedule.
  • Make sure you take your medication as directed by your doctor.
  • Contact your care team if, for any reason, you have missed a dose or if you anticipate interruptions in your schedule.

Take only the medications prescribed and recommended by your doctor. Do not take any other treatments without your doctor's knowledge, including over-the-counter medicines and natural supplements or vitamin therapies that could affect your treatment.

Communicate closely with your care team. Talk openly about your symptoms and any questions or concerns you may have. The first key to controlling cancer symptoms is understanding them.

Managing Potential Side Effects of Treatment

Cancer treatment affects everyone differently, and can have a variety of effects, depending upon the individual’s diagnosis, overall condition, and specific course of therapy. Some people experience few side effects from cancer treatment. Others may experience side effects that are considered “normal” reactions to treatment, while others experience side effects that may require specific treatments or changes in the overall cancer treatment plan.

There are actions you can take to manage or even help prevent unwanted effects of your treatment. However, as part of taking control of your care, it is your responsibility to be aware of side effects and to report them immediately to your doctor. Don’t just make note of physical effects. If you experience emotional issues that may be related to your treatment, note them, and then talk openly about them with your care team.

Ideally, the effects are exactly what you and your care team hope for: eliminating or controlling your cancer. However, some effects may be unwanted. Understanding and closely observing both wanted and unwanted effects of treatment are vital to controlling your cancer.

To learn more about coping with side effects of cancer therapies, visit the following websites.


As a cancer patient, you may find yourself with a low red blood cell count, known as anemia.

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Depression and Anxiety

It is completely natural to feel depressed, anxious, angry, or confused when you are being treated for cancer. Emotions run high when you have a serious disease that needs serious treatment.

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Chemotherapy cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell and as a result, can destroy normal cells in hair, skin, bone, blood, and other areas of your body.

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Diarrhea is the passage of frequent and watery stools with or without pain.

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Fatigue is characterized by a general feeling of tiredness, weariness, weakness, exhaustion, or lack of energy.

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Hair Loss

It helps to know that hair loss is usually temporary. How much you lose and how quickly depends on your chemotherapy drugs.

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Mouth Sores

Mouth sores occur when chemotherapy destroys fast-growing healthy cells lining your mouth. You may hear the following terms when mouth sores are discussed: mucositis, stomatitis, and esophagitis.

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Nausea and Vomiting

During your treatment, you may feel mildly ill, be overcome by nausea, or have bouts of vomiting.

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Pain Management

Some people with cancer may experience pain caused by the cancer itself or related to its treatment.

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Skin Changes

Changes in your skin may occur with various forms of treatment. The changes may be general or localized and may involve your toe and fingernails,  mucous membranes, or hair follicles.

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Thrombocytopenia (THROM-boh-site-oh-PEE-neeuh) is a decrease in the number of platelets in your blood

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