Medical Side Effects Information

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Got Chemo Brain?

by Karen Syrjala, PhD

A harsh irony is sometimes involved in moving on after cancer treatment. Having emerged from the darkness of a life-threatening disease, you may now find yourself in a haze of cognitive problems known collectively as chemo brain.

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How I Handled Hair Loss with Joy

by Joy Huber

For me, hair loss was the most emotionally painful part of my cancer experience. But I managed to handle my hair loss with joy. There were definitely tears shed, and there was certainly sadness. But I did not stay there. I moved quickly from crying to laughing. Here’s how.

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Steps toward Conquering Cachexia

by Egidio Del Fabbro, MD

The term cachexia refers to a spe­cific condition characterized by involuntary weight loss, poor appetite, and muscle wasting. It is im­portant to note that cachexia is quite different from starvation. Consuming more calories will not reverse the loss of muscle and fat. And unlike starva­tion, which is always accompanied by an increased appetite, people with cachexia often have a poor appetite despite weight loss.

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How Cancer Affects Your Bones

by Huifang Lu, MD, PhD, and Xerxes Pundole, MD, MPH

Healthy bones are important throughout your life. Bones aid movement, support the body, protect organs, produce red and white blood cells, and store minerals. Bone is a dynamic tissue that is constantly reabsorbing bone material and using it to regenerate itself. When bone mass is lost faster than it can be re­placed, bones become thin and porous, and osteoporosis (a condition that makes bones more likely to crumble) can develop.

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Are You at Risk for Lymphedema?

The lymph system is a network of lymph vessels, tissues, and organs that carry lymph, a clear fluid that contains lymphocytes (white blood cells) and plasma, throughout the body. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. Fluid builds up in soft body tissues and causes swelling. Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body.

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Clearing the Haze of Chemo Brain

by Teri Simoneau, PhD

Changes in thinking, memory, and attention following chemo­therapy treatment are quite common. Studies estimate that these cognitive effects, sometimes called chemo brain, occur in one out of every two to five people who receive chemotherapy. People who experience chemo brain report poor short-term memory, slower information processing, difficulty multitasking, and problems finding the right words when talking.

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Your Skin Care Questions Answered

by Mario E. Lacouture, MD

A survey of cancer survivors showed that 67 percent did not expect skin problems to occur prior to treat­ment. But once they finished their treatment, skin irritation and dry skin were reported as the most common side effects. Since most anticancer treatments work by destroying rapidly growing cancer cells, healthy skin cells will also be affected.

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Prepare, Prevent & Protect

People with cancer who are treated with chemo­therapy are more likely to get infections through everyday activities or from healthcare settings. One out of every ten people with cancer who re­ceives chemotherapy gets an infection that requires a hospital visit.

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