If you or someone you know has a history of cancer, it is important to be aware of the potential health consequences of cancer and its treatment. Frequently, patients and families are not informed or do not recall discussions that occurred during the stress-filled days after diagnosis of such potential problems as pain, depression, infertility and other physical and emotional changes. Regardless of whether problems are temporary or permanent, most can be managed.
Here are a few cancer self-help recommendations from doctors and nurses:
-Incorporate regular exercise, stress management, a healthful diet and weight control as part of a healthy lifestyle.
-Schedule regular health checkups.
-Ask your oncology team for a written summary of your cancer diagnosis, treatments, tests and recommended follow-up once treatment is complete. Create a folder to organize diagnostic and laboratory reports and give it to your current health care provider to make a copy of his or her records.
-Ask your nurse or physician to help you and your caregivers learn about the possible long-term effects of your cancer therapy and ways to prevent or minimize them. Effects differ from person to person; therefore, educating yourself is important.
-Inform physicians and nurses about your previous cancer history, treatment, current medications and long-term effects you may experience, including infertility, early menopause, indigestion, dry mouth or taste changes, constipation, diarrhea, sleep issues, fatigue, dry skin, memory loss, changes in thinking, vision or hearing problems, depression, relationship/sexuality issues, anxiety, confidence issues, pain, tingling, or numbness or swelling in the fingers and toes.
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-Look for resources to assist with any physical, emotional or financial issues that you may experience.
-Helpful Internet sites are www.acor.org, www.cancer.org, and www.canceradvocacy.org.
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