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Breast Cancer - Home Treatment

Managing side effects

The side effects of breast cancer treatment can be serious. Healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise may help control your symptoms. Your doctor may also give you medicines to help you with certain side effects, such as medicines to control and prevent nausea and vomiting.

  • Home treatment for fatigue includes learning how to manage when you feel a tiredness that doesn't go away with rest or sleep. For example, if taking a shower is a priority, and mornings are when you have the most energy, plan to take your shower at that time.
  • Home treatment for nausea or vomiting includes watching for and treating early signs of dehydration, such as having a dry mouth or feeling lightheaded when you stand up. Eating smaller meals may help. So can a little bit of ginger candy or ginger tea.
  • Home treatment for diarrhea includes resting your stomach and being alert for signs of dehydration. Check with your doctor before using any nonprescription medicines for your diarrhea. Be sure to drink enough fluids.
  • Home treatment for constipation includes making sure that you drink enough fluids and eat fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet each day. Do not use a laxative without first talking to your doctor.

Other problems that can be treated at home include:

  • Sleep problems. If you have trouble sleeping, managing sleep problems may help. This includes establishing a sleep routine and making your bedroom a restful place.
  • Hair lossHair loss may be unavoidable. But you can decrease irritation of your scalp by using mild shampoos and avoiding damaging hair products.
  • Stress. Cancer and its treatment can be stressful. But there are many steps you can take to manage stress, from learning specific relaxation skills to finding ways to express yourself.
  • Pain. Not all forms of cancer or cancer treatment cause pain. But if you do have pain, there are many home treatments that can help, such as over-the-counter medicines and using ice and heat.
  • Lymphedema, which is swelling of the arm. You can reduce your risk for lymphedema by protecting your arm on the side where you had surgery and letting your doctor know right away if you have swelling or redness in that arm.
    actionset.gif Lymphedema: Managing Lymphedema

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 30, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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