Monday, October 03, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Cancer patients may be treated with any of more than 100 chemotherapy medications that all work in different ways and have different effects on the body. In the October issue, Mayo Clinic Health Letter features an eight-page Special Report on maximizing the benefits of chemotherapy, including ways to manage side effects. Featured tips include:
Eating well: Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of some, but not all, chemotherapy treatments. Appetite loss and unintentional weight loss can occur, too. It's important to work with the medical team to manage these side effects and eat balanced meals when hungry.
Medications are available to prevent or treat nausea. Studies have shown that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for nausea, too. Other helpful strategies may include taking ginger tablets, drinking ginger ale or participating in relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or hypnosis.
Get plenty of rest: Feeling tired is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy and cancer. Fatigue may last for a few days at a time, with normal energy in between. When it occurs, fatigue can be debilitating. It's important to give the body the rest it needs for the best chance at fighting the disease. Sleeping eight hours a night should be a goal. Patients might benefit from a nap or two during the day, too.
Get moderate exercise: Exercise can help improve the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system and muscle strength. It can also improve quality of life, emotional well-being and reduce stress, appetite loss and fatigue during treatment. Several recent studies have shown that people who regularly exercise at moderate levels during treatment are less tired. Bike riding, walking, swimming, yoga or tai chi all can be good exercise options during cancer treatment.
Make time for relaxation: No doubt that a cancer diagnosis and treatment are stressful. But research indicates it's especially important to work on stress reduction while undergoing treatment. Stress has profound harmful physical, psychological and behavioral effects. There's evidence suggesting that stress plays a role in the progression of disease and affects life span.
Helpful stress reduction techniques include simple activities such as journaling, breathing deeply or listening to soothing music. Mind-body practices, such as yoga, tai chi and meditation, have been shown to shown to help with stress, anxiety and depression among cancer patients.
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