National Cancer Survivors Day

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Medical Side Effects Information

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Chemo Brain

by Arash Asher, MD

Until recently, the cognitive changes brought on by cancer treatment – often called chemo brain or chemo fog – were brushed under the rug. Many physicians believed they were simply a result of anxiety or dis­tress and, therefore, not a real medical concern. We are now learning, however, that up to 75 percent of people treated for cancer do experience some form of cognitive symptoms due to the disease and its treatment.

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Men, Cancer, and Sexual Health

by Joseph B. Narus, DNP, GNP-BC, ANP

Incredible advances in cancer care are now allowing men to recover healthy and active lives after treat­ment. Still, cancer treatments can affect a man’s sexual function. This is espe­cially true for prostate, colorectal, and bladder cancers, three of the most com­mon cancers in men. The side effects of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy for these and other types of cancer can interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection, lessen your desire for sex, and affect your ability to have children.

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Depression

by Katherine Easton, LCSW, OSW-C

When people think about the side effects of cancer treat­ment, physical effects like fatigue, hair loss, and nausea and vomiting are often what come to mind. However, cancer survivors are at risk of developing another rarely discussed, and far less visible, side-effect – depression. This unwelcome, and often unexpected, guest can even affect people who may normally have healthy coping skills.

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What Cancer Survivors Need to Know about Lymphedema

Lymphedema is the build-up of fluid in soft body tissues. The condition occurs when lymph is not able to flow through the body the way that it should. When part of the lymph system is damaged or blocked, fluid cannot drain from nearby body tissues. Fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling. In cancer survivors, lymphedema is caused when the lymph system is damaged or blocked by infection, injury, cancer, re­moval of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area, or scar tissue from radia­tion therapy or surgery.

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Are You at Risk for Falls?

by Cassandra Vonnes, MS, ARNP, GNP-BC

It can happen in a blink of an eye – an accident, a misstep, light-­headedness when standing too quickly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury and death in Americans over the age of 65. Typically, fall risks are highest for the elderly. However, peo­ple with cancer, regardless of age, are also at high risk for falls because of the disease and its complicated treatments.

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Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

by Robert Knoerl, BSN, RN, and Grace Kanzawa, BSN, RN, with Ellen M. Lavoie Smith, PhD, APN-BC, AOCN

If chemotherapy is part of your cancer treatment regimen, you may develop a condition known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN for short. Up to 68 percent of cancer survivors may experience this common chemotherapy side effect.

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Coping with the Cognitive Side Effects
of Cancer

by Jeffrey S. Wefel, PhD, ABPP, and Mariana E. Bradshaw, PhD, ABPP

Among the possible side effects of cancer, many survivors report changes in their thinking skills during and after treatment. The severity of these changes varies by person and can include memory problems; difficulty with concentrating, multitasking, and word finding; and slowed thinking. This cancer-related cognitive impairment is often referred to as chemo brain.

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HELP! My Skin’s Not the Same after Treatment

by Carol R. Drucker, MD

“My skin just hasn’t been the same since chemo­therapy.” I hear this comment frequently from cancer survi­vors, who often follow the statement with a list of the changes they’ve ob­served: drier, more sensitive skin; brittle nails; hair alterations; skin discoloration; and more. Survivor skin can be different from pretreatment skin in many ways. Some skin changes will resolve with time; others may not.

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