Breast Cancer, Metastatic or Recurrent
Managing side effects
The side effects of breast cancer treatment can be serious. Healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise may help control your symptoms. Your doctor may also give you medicines to help you with certain side effects, such as Reference medicines to control and prevent nausea and vomiting.
- Reference Home treatment for fatigue includes tips on how to manage tiredness that doesn't go away with rest or sleep. For example, if taking a shower is a priority, and if mornings are when you have the most energy, take your shower in the morning.
- Reference Home treatment for nausea or vomiting includes watching for and treating early signs of Reference dehydration Opens New Window, such as having a dry mouth or feeling lightheaded when you stand up. Eating smaller meals may help. So can a little bit of ginger candy or ginger tea.
- Reference Home treatment for diarrhea includes resting your stomach and being alert for signs of dehydration. Check with your doctor before using any nonprescription medicines for your diarrhea. Be sure to drink enough fluids.
- Reference Home treatment for constipation includes making sure that you drink enough fluids and eat fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day. Don't use a laxative without first talking to your doctor.
Other symptoms that can be treated at home include:
- Sleep problems. If you have trouble sleeping, some Reference tips for managing sleep problems may help.
- Reference Hair loss may be unavoidable. But you can decrease irritation of your scalp by using mild shampoos and avoiding hair products that damage hair.
- Stress. Cancer and its treatment can be stressful. But there are many steps you can take to Reference manage stress.
- Pain. Not all forms of cancer or cancer treatment cause pain. But if you do have pain, there are many Reference home treatments that can help.
- Swelling of your arm. You can reduce your risk of this swelling by protecting your arm on the side where you had surgery. Let your doctor know right away if you have swelling or redness in that arm. This swelling is called lymphedema (say "limp-fih-DEE-muh").
Having cancer and being treated for it can be very stressful, especially when it is metastatic or recurrent cancer. There are steps you can take to Reference reduce your stress. Some people find that it helps to talk about their feelings with family and friends. Others find that spending time alone is what they need.
If your Reference emotional reaction to cancer gets in the way of your ability to make decisions about your health, it's important to talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer psychological or financial services. And a local chapter of the American Cancer Society can help you find a support group.
Cancer or cancer treatments can cause changes that may be hard to adjust to, such as changes in your body image or sexual problems. Reference Managing body image issues may involve talking openly about your feelings with your partner and discussing your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to refer you to groups that can offer support and information.
For more information about learning how to live with metastatic or recurrent cancer, read "Coping With Advanced Cancer" or "When Cancer Returns" from the National Cancer Institute. These booklets are available online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/advancedcancer and at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/when-cancer-returns.
Having cancer can change your life in many ways. For support in managing these changes, see the topic Reference Getting Support When You Have Cancer.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology