✓ Coping with Treatment Side Effects When You Have Cancer
There are a number of anti-nausea medications available. But some patients with cancer also find that using ginger, either alone or in conjunction with anti-nausea medicine, significantly reduces nausea and vomiting.
Cancer itself can cause fatigue. But this debilitating lack of energy can also be caused by cancer treatments. In fact, fatigue is a side effect experienced by nine out of 10 people undergoing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, or radiation therapy.
These treatments can damage cells in your bone marrow that are responsible for making red blood cells and lead to iron-deficiency anemia. With this type of anemia your red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, and iron supplements may improve the fatigue caused by iron-deficiency anemia.
“Someone with a high need for extra iron might take iron supplements,” says Byers, but most people can get the iron they need from food. One “trick” is to take vitamin C with meals in order to enhance the absorption of the iron in food.
Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a common side effect of certain drugs, including the widely prescribed chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.
“[Paclitaxel] can be used to treat a lot of different cancer types – lung cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer,” Birdsall tells WebMD. “The amino acid l-glutamine has been shown in numerous studies to be helpful at preventing or treating peripheral neuropathy – pain, numbness, and tingling – associated with [paclitaxel].”
L-glutamine, taken orally, has also been shown in one study to reduce the peripheral neuropathy associated with oxaliplatin.
✛Key Points to Remember When Considering Supplements for Cancer✛
- Cut through the hype and obtain your information about cancer supplements from reliable sources. Beware of advertisements. There’s a lot of marketing hype out there.
- No matter how harmless you think a vitamin or supplement might be, check with your doctor about potential interactions with your other treatments.
“Only recently are government agencies providing grants to do research on dietary supplements and complementary and alternative therapies,” says pharmacist and licensed acupuncturist K. Simon Yeung, the clinical coordinator of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center About Herbs database.