Three potential side effects of breast cancer treatments
Cancer is a painful, potentially life-threatening
disease. Though discomfort might be the first
warning sign that compels people to visit their
physicians on the road to receiving a cancer diagnosis,
cancer treatments can produce a host of side effects,
including pain, as well.
According to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center,
breast-cancer treatments can create both long-term
side effects and late side effects. Long-term side effects
are those that begin during treatment and
continue after all treatments have stopped, while
late side effects refers to symptoms that can appear
weeks, months, or even years after treatments have
The list of potential side effects of breast cancer
treatments is lengthy, but may include the following
conditions or issues:
The nonprofit organization Breastcancer.org
notes that fatigue is the most common side effect
of breast-cancer treatments, with some estimates
suggesting it affects as many as 90 percent of all patients.
Some breast-cancer patients may experience
fatigue after treatment and find it’s worsening because
they are eating less and not getting enough
nutrients. In such instances, the initial fatigue may
make people too tired to cook, ultimately contributing
to more fatigue when they are not eating or
eating convenient yet potentially unhealthy foods.
Cooking healthy foods in bulk when fatigue is not
overwhelming and accepting others’ offers to cook is
a great way for cancer patients to ensure their diets
are helping them combat fatigue and not making fatigue
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine notes that, following
breast-cancer treatment, some patients may
suffer from lymphedema, a condition characterized
by the accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the tissues.
Lymphedema most often occurs in the arms,
but can contribute to swelling in other parts of the
body as well.
Why some people suffer from lymphedema after
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, O 22 CTOBER 11-17, 2019 BTR
treatment and others don’t is a mystery, though surgeons
at Johns Hopkins Breast Center have noticed
a low occurrence of lymphedema in patients who
have undergone sentinel node biopsies or axillary
Breast-cancer patients are at risk of lymphedema
for the rest of their lives after treatment, and while
there’s no way to prevent it, patients should avoid
getting needle sticks or blood pressure tests in arms
where lymph nodes were removed. In addition, any
injuries or cuts in arms where lymph nodes were removed
should be treated with vigilance.
Many women will stop menstruating while undergoing
chemotherapy or after chemo treatments, and
that cessation is often temporary. These irregularities
may be traced to hormonal therapies that make
the ovaries stop producing eggs. However, in some
instances, even premenopausal women may have
trouble getting pregnant after hormonal therapy.
Breastcancer.org notes that women whose periods
do not return after treatment may still be
fertile, but also notes that women who are close to
menopause when beginning chemo may become
permanently infertile. Women who have been diagnosed
with breast cancer who are concerned about
post-treatment infertility should speak with their
physicians immediately about their prospects of
getting pregnant after treatment, including fertility
treatments and the potential safety risks of getting
pregnant after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast-cancer treatments save lives every day.
When discussing treatments with their physicians,
breast-cancer patients should ask questions about potential
short- and long-term side effects.
According to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, breast cancer
treatments can create both long-term side effects and
late side effects.