What is Cancer?
Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases in which cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because abnormal cells grow out of control.
Cancer Symptoms May Include…
Telltale Signs of Cancer include: A lump or thickening in the breast or testicles; a change in a wart or mole; a skin sore or a persistent sore throat that doesn’t heal; a change in bowel or bladder habits; a persistent cough or coughing blood; constant indigestion or trouble swallowing; unusual bleeding or vaginal discharge; and chronic fatigue.
Care for a Patient with Cancer
These tips may help relieve some of the side effects of Cancer Treatments
General side effects from chemotherapy can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and the bone marrow. Constitutional symptoms include fever and general aches.
- Skin rashes and dry skin are common effects of chemotherapy. Temporary hair loss (alopecia) and hair thinning also can occur. Medications used to treat hereditary hair loss are not effective in preventing hair loss from chemotherapy.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) tract side effects include nausea and vomiting (also known as emesis or throwing up). Loss of appetite (anorexia) and weight loss also may occur. Alterations in colon function may lead to diarrhea or constipation. Additional side effects may include the development of mouth sores (stomatitis or mucositis) and inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis). As with hair loss, these effects are temporary. In many cases, treatment is available to help prevent or substantially reduce the severity of these side effects.
- Bone Marrow – The inside of bone is composed of a fine network of mesh-like bone, called marrow. Blood cells (e.g., white cells, red cells, platelets) are made and develop (mature) in the bone marrow prior to entering the blood stream. These cells are responsible for transporting oxygen (red cells), helping to control bleeding (platelets), and fighting infections (white cells). Because chemotherapy affects rapidly dividing cells, bone marrow cells are affected.
- During chemotherapy blood cell production is suppressed, causing an increased risk for infections and bleeding, increased fatigue, and a lack of exercise capacity. Depending on the degree of suppression and cell count levels, one or more medications may be administered to reverse blood cell suppression and allow chemotherapy treatments to continue as scheduled, with no dose reduction.
Cancer Care Resources
There are many resources that can help with cancer care. One resource is the use of in-home care. A caregiver, whether that is an in-home nurse aide or a family member or friend, should help with:
- Medication management
- Encouraging good nutrition and rest
- Supporting treatment plan as prescribed by physician
- Monitoring and being aware of the warning signs
- Encouraging yearly breast exams and mammograms
The Central Virginia Chapter of the American Cancer Society is a great resource for those with any type of cancer. They can help with anything from free rides to treatment, hotel stays, and free wigs to being an informational, financial, and all around support system for anyone with any type of cancer.