Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Feel Your Best During Treatment

Font Size

Fatigue continued...

The single best thing you can do to combat fatigue, Borges says, is exercise.

"Research shows that women who get regular exercise during cancer treatment feel better and have more energy."

You don’t have to push hard or go far. Three hours a week may be enough to make you feel better. Gentle workouts like yoga and brisk walks fit the bill.

Ask your doctor to also check for underlying causes of fatigue, like anemia and thyroid problems.

Pain or Tingling in Hands and Feet

Pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands and feet, called neuropathy, is a side effect of many drugs used to treat breast cancer that has spread.

Tell your doctor as soon as you feel symptoms. He or she may change the dose of your cancer medicine. Your doctor may suggest adding another drug to help with pain or tingling.

Peeling, Redness on Hands and Feet

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

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

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

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be common with several kinds of chemotherapy. Borges suggests sucking on ice pops or ice chips and dabbing vitamin E oil on the sore areas.

Swollen, Heavy Arms or Hands

If you’ve had lymph nodes removed from your armpit or chest during breast surgery, you are at increased risk for lymphedema, a buildup of fluid in the fatty tissues just under the skin in that area.

To prevent lymphedema, try to avoid cuts, burns, constriction, and muscle strain on the affected side.

Some tips:

  • 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 strenuous, 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, exercises, and special bandages.

1 | 2
Reviewed on January 15, 2014

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow