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Side Effects From Breast Cancer Treatments

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Chemotherapy and radiation destroy breast cancer cells. But these treatments can also affect healthy cells and can change how you feel. They might cause:

Medications and other therapies can help ease many of these side effects.

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Loss of Appetite

Breast cancer treatment may make you feel not hungry, which can make it hard to get the nutrition you need. Try these tips to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet:

  • Eat a few small meals during the day instead of three large ones.
  • Try an "instant breakfast" mix or other nutritional shakes between meals.
  • Eat your largest meal of the day when you are most hungry.
  • Drink water or other beverages either a half hour before or after meals so they don’t make you too full.
  • Try moderate exercise to increase your appetite, as long as your doctor says it’s OK.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some -- but not all -- people getting cancer treatment will have nausea. It can happen right after treatment or a few days later. Ask your doctor about medications that can make you feel better. Also, keep track of when you’re nauseated. You may be able to spot patterns that can help you get ahead of the problem. Also:

  • Eat small meals more often and avoid greasy foods and citrus.
  • Try foods at room temperature instead of very hot or cold.
  • When you’re nauseated, try bland foods like crackers, gelatin, ice chips, rice, plain mashed potatoes, or applesauce.

Call your doctor if you have severe nausea or you’re vomiting a lot. If you throw up, wait an hour before you eat or drink anything. Then, begin with ice chips and gradually add foods. Chamomile, ginger roottea, or ginger ale can sometimes help settle your stomach.

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