VIGILANCE FOR BRAIN CANCER

Brain cancer is a very serious form of cancer. Recently, Sen. John McCain revealed he has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive type of brain tumor. GBMs originate in the brain; it does not spread there from another part of the body. The cause is not known. This tumor has no relation to melanoma, the skin cancer for which McCain was treated in the past.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT CHEMOTHERAPY

Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for cancer. It kills healthy cells along with cancer cells, inflicting damage on the body and seriously compromising the immune system. Chemotherapy also kills most rapidly dividing healthy and cancer cells, but not all the cells are fast growing. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small population of cancer cells that are slow growing and thus resistant to treatment, do not die. Chemotherapy makes these cells even more numerous as the ratio of highly malignant cells….

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RESTORING DIGNITY AND ’DOS

For many women facing cancer, the most devastating aspect is learning they may lose their hair due to chemotherapy.  “Most women tell me that as soon as they hear the oncologist say, ‘You’re going to lose your hair,’ that’s the last thing they remember hearing,” said Eric Johnson, co-owner, with his wife, Jeletta, of Hair Institute in Lexington. “They can deal with the sickness; they can deal with the treatments; but it’s the hair loss that gets them the most.

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To deal with it, let people help you with shopping, housework, gardening and driving. Save your energy by allowing your body time to recover. Plan activities for the time of day when you feel the most energetic. Try to eat a balanced meal with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Relaxation and meditation exercises may improve your sleep and give you more energy.


Nausea or vomiting and appetite changes

During chemotherapy, some drugs may change the taste of food. Sometimes you may not like food you enjoyed before or you may crave foods you don’t usually eat. Chemotherapy can also make you feel sick or even vomit. There are medicines that help most people with this symptom; they are usually given in the form of injections, tablets, liquids and wafers. If you feel you are likely to vomit, breathe deeply and gently through your mouth. Remain hydrated to keep your fluid levels up. Sip fluids all through the day rather than drinking a lot all at once. Having small meals can help; just be sure to eat and drink slowly and chew your food well. Eating a little ginger may help manage nausea and vomiting, says the National Cancer Institute.

According to the American Cancer Society, your doctor can choose from more than 100 chemotherapy drugs to fight cancer. Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells in the body as the medicines target the dividing cells, but the normal cells in the blood, nose, nails, mouth, etc. also divide rapidly because chemotherapy affects them as well. The cancer cells cannot repair themselves well enough, but the healthy cells can repair the damage chemotherapy causes.


When the normal cells are damaged, it triggers certain side effects such as hair loss, mouth sores, skin and nail changes, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, tiredness and lack of energy. You may also experience changes in hearing, sex and fertility and memory and concentration. Chemotherapy can have an adverse effect on the blood and immune systems. It can cause constipation and diarrhea and damage nerves and muscles.


Most chemotherapy side effects go away after you have finished treatment, but some may take a long time to dissipate completely. Here are some ways to deal with the main side effects of chemotherapy:


Lacking energy or feeling tired

This is the most common and debilitating side effect of chemotherapy. It includes feeling drowsy, confused and exhausted.

DEALING WITH THE SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY

HARLEENA SINGH

Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer with a background in teaching and education. She has a keen interest in food and health related issues and can be approached through her website freelancewriter.co. Checkout her blog and network with her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

more articles by harleena singh

Hair loss

This affects most people going through chemotherapy in various ways, depending on the drugs taken. After the treatment, the hair grows back, but during the time when hair loss is most apparent, many people feel unattractive, sad and vulnerable. To help you handle with these emotions, keep your hair and scalp clean with a mild shampoo. Limit the use of hair dryers, rollers and harsh styling products. Use vegetable-based dyes or those with few chemicals if you want to dye your hair. Wear sunglasses or glasses to protect your eyes from the sun and dust, especially if your eyelashes fall out. Wear a turban, cap, wig, hat or scarf to make yourself feel comfortable and confident.


Mouth sores

Some chemotherapy drugs may cause mouth sores and infections or ulcers. Radiation on the neck, chest and head may cause dental and gum problems. In such cases, use a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth twice a day and soothe mouth sores and tender gums with plain yogurt. If toothpaste irritates your mouth, use a mixture of half a teaspoon of salt with four cups of water. Use mouthwash to help heal mouth sores. You can make a homemade mouthwash by dissolving a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda or salt in a glass of warm water; rinse four times daily. Blend foods to make them easier to eat and avoid hot, spicy, acidic or coarse foods. Do not smoke or drink alcohol, as this irritates the mouth.


You can find more tips about managing chemo side effects at: www.cancercare.org and www.webmd.com.