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What're the side effects of breast cancer treatment?

Side effects can occur with cancer treatments because healthy cells are often damaged along with the cancer cells that are targeted by the cancer therapy. The type and extent of these side effects vary depending on the particular treatment involved,

its duration, and its dose.

Surgery: The side effects of surgery depend on the location of the tumor, the type of operation, and other factors. Although patients are often uncomfortable during the first few days after surgery, this pain can usually be controlled with medicine. The recovery period after an operation varies from patient to patient.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs generally target rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, other cells that also divide rapidly include blood cells, cells that line the digestive tract, and cells in hair follicles. Unfortunately, these healthy cells may also be impacted by the chemotherapy drugs, resulting in side effects such as infections, tiredness, temporary hair loss, mouth sores, and other symptoms. Not all chemotherapy patients develop all of these symptoms, and they usually go away during the recovery period or after treatment stops. Medicines and other treatments are available to control or minimize many of these symptoms.

One of the most important side effects of many chemotherapy drugs is lowering of the blood counts. Because chemotherapy can reduce the function of the bone marrow, where most blood cells are produced, it can cause anemia (the patient may have less energy); low platelets (the patient may bruise or bleed easily); low white blood cells (the patient may be more susceptible to infections).

Radiation: The most common side effects of radiation therapy are tiredness, skin reactions (such as a rash or redness) in the treated areas, and loss of appetite. Radiation therapy may also cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells that help protect the body against infection. Most of these side effects can be treated or controlled and in most cases they are not permanent. Radiation therapy in young children may result in future learning difficulties and reduced growth.

During any type of cancer treatment, patients may lose their appetite and find it hard to eat well. In addition, patients may experience nausea, vomiting, mouth sores. Some patients find that foods taste different. Others may not feel like eating because they are uncomfortable or tired.

More information on breast cancer

What is breast cancer? - Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast. Breast tissue covers a larger area than just the breast.
What types of breast cancer are there? - Breast cancer is a type of uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that can develop in one of several different areas of the breast.
What're the risk factors for breast cancer? - Risk factors for breast cancer include age, geographical variation, reproductive factors, inherited risk, previous breast disease.
What're the symptoms of breast cancer? - Symptoms of breast cancer include breast lump, breast discharge, nipple inversion, or changes in the skin overlying the breast.
How is breast cancer diagnosed? - The mainstay of breast cancer diagnosis is the triad of clinical history, physical examination and imaging (mammography or ultrasound).
What're the stages of breast cancer? - The stages of breast cancer depends on its size and the extent to which it has spread to other parts of the body.
What causes breast cancer? - The exact cause or causes of breast cancer remain unknown. Hormonal influences play a role in the development of breast cancer.
What're the treatments for breast cancer? - Treatment for breast cancer begins with a decision about the type of surgery. Breast implants is used for breast reconstruction.
What're the side effects of breast cancer treatment? - The type and extent of breast cancer treatment side effects vary depending on the particular treatment involved, its duration, and its dose.
How is breast cancer treated with surgery? - Surgery is the mainstay of therapy for breast cancer. A breast biopsy is the removal of breast tissue for examination by a pathologist.
What's the chemotherapy for breast care? - Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. Chemotherapy involves being given a combination of anti-cancer medicines.
What's the radiation therapy for breast cancer? - Radiation therapy is often used to destroy any remaining breast cancer cells in the breast, chest wall, or axilla (underarm) area after surgery.
What's the hormone therapy for breast cancer? - Most breast cancer is sensitive to the female hormone oestrogen. Megestrol acetate is used for hormone treatment of advanced breast cancer.
What breast cancer medications are available? - Medications to treat breast cancer include selective estrogen-receptor modulators, aromatase inhibitors, biologic response modifiers.
Can breast cancer be prevented? - There is no known way to prevent breast cancer. But several preventive measures can be take to reduce risk of breast cancer.
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