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Feel Better During Breast Cancer Treatment

Pain or Tingling in Hands and Feet

Doctors call this "neuropathy." It's a side effect of some chemotherapy drugs. It can also happen after cancer surgery or radiation, or for other reasons, including the cancer itself.

Tip: Tell your doctor as soon as you feel symptoms. She may change the dose of your cancer medicine or add another drug to help.

Peeling, Redness on Hands and Feet

Some drugs that treat breast cancer can cause "hand-foot syndrome." This involves a sunburn-like redness, tenderness, and sometimes, peeling on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet.

Tip: Use thick emollient creams several times a day, Borges suggests. At night, wear socks or gloves to bed. A B6 vitamin supplement may also help.

If these things don't work, your doctor may want to change your dosage or extend your "time off" cycle with the drug.

Mouth Sores

Several kinds of chemotherapy can cause these. Radiation can also cause them. They're painful and make it hard to eat and drink.


  • Use a soft toothbrush.
  • Avoid whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes, which may irritate sores.
  • Suck on ice pops or ice chips.
  • Avoid spicy or crunchy foods.
  • Skip alcohol and fizzy or acidic drinks, such as tomato and citrus juices.
  • Drink through a straw.

Ask your doctor about pain relief if these tips aren’t helping enough.

Swollen, Heavy Arms or Hands

If you’ve had lymph nodes removed from your armpit or chest during breast cancer surgery, you're more likely to get lymphedema, a buildup of fluid in the fatty tissues just under the skin in those areas.

To lower your odds of getting this condition, try to avoid cuts, burns, constriction, and muscle strain on your affected side.


  • Have blood draws, shots, and blood pressure checks on the opposite side if possible.
  • Wear protective gloves when doing housework and cooking.
  • Use antibiotic cream on scratches.
  • Wear compression sleeves on long plane flights.
  • Avoid heavy lifting on your affected side.

If you already have lymphedema, ask your doctor to recommend a specially trained physical therapist who can ease the swelling and give you compression garments, special bandages, and exercises to do.

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