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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Side Effects From Breast Cancer Treatments

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Weakness and Fatigue

Many parts of cancer treatment can make you feel weak or tired, including the treatment itself, worry or depression, not eating, pain, and too few blood cells in your body.

  • Make sure you get enough rest. Sleep at least 8 hours a night, and try to lie down during the day to rest if you’re still tired. Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Exercise. Short walks can give you more energy. If you’re more active, you’ll rest better.
  • Save your energy for the things that are really important to you. Get help from family and friends with errands and other chores.
  • If you feel pain, let your doctor know. There are almost always treatments that can help.
  • Eat plenty of iron-rich foods, like lean meat, beans, dark, leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals or pasta.
  • If your body has too few red blood cells, a condition called anemia, your doctor may recommend erythropoietin or darbepoetin, treatments that stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells. You can get them by injection, which you can sometimes do on your own at home. If you get this treatment, your doctor will watch you to see if you have rashes, allergic reactions, and problems with blood pressure.

Mouth Soreness

Sometimes, breast cancer treatments can make your mouth or throat sore. Check with your doctor or dentist to see what can stop your pain.

  • Ask your doctor about drugs to ease mouth soreness.
  • Choose soft foods that won’t irritate your mouth, such as scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, pureed cooked vegetables, and bananas.
  • Cut food into small pieces.
  • Avoid citrus fruits, spicy or salty items, and rough foods.
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