womens health

Surviving Breast Cancer Treatment – Coping with Side Effects

Breast cancer is a life-changing diagnosis that affects millions of women every year. While advancements in medicine have improved the survival rates for breast cancer patients, undergoing treatment can still be an arduous and grueling experience. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are common treatments used to fight breast cancer but they often come with side effects that can impact a patient’s quality of life.

Coping with these side effects requires patience, support from family and friends, and sometimes professional help. In this article, we will explore some of the most common side effects of breast cancer treatment and offer tips on how to manage them.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy is one of the most effective ways to treat breast cancer but it also has some unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, mouth sores among others. These symptoms can make daily activities like eating or sleeping difficult.

To cope with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting try:

– Eating small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.

– Avoiding spicy foods or anything that might upset your stomach.

– Drinking ginger tea which has been shown to alleviate nausea.

– Taking prescribed anti-nausea medication before your chemotherapy session begins.

Radiation Therapy Side Effects

Radiation therapy is another form of treatment for breast cancer patients. It uses high-energy radiation beams to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Common side effects include skin irritation at the site where radiation was administered (redness) , fatigue , swelling in arms/legs due to lymphedema .

To cope with radiation therapy induced skin irritation try:

– Wearing loose-fitting clothes made from soft fabrics like cotton.

– Keeping your skin moisturized by using fragrance-free lotions or creams recommended by your doctor .

– Avoiding exposing treated areas directly sunlight as much as possible .

Surgery Side Effects

Surgery is often used to remove cancerous tumors from the breast. It can be a major procedure that requires hospitalization and recovery time. Common side effects of surgery include pain, swelling, fatigue, and difficulty moving your arm.

To cope with surgery-induced discomfort try:

– Taking prescribed pain medication as directed by your doctor.

– Resting frequently throughout the day but also engaging in gentle exercise like walking to help speed up your recovery process .

– Avoiding lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous activities for several weeks after surgery .

Future Advances

Research into new treatments for breast cancer is ongoing. One area of focus is immunotherapy which uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells . Another promising area of research involves targeted therapies which aim to attack specific proteins within cancer cells while leaving healthy ones unharmed .

In conclusion, surviving breast cancer treatment requires patience and support from loved ones. Coping with side effects such as nausea, skin irritation , fatigue , lymphedema among others can be challenging but there are ways to manage them effectively . As medical science continues to evolve more effective treatments will become available making it easier for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer .


1) American Cancer Society (ACS). Chemotherapy Side Effects [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 10]. Available from: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/side-effects.html

2) ACS. Radiation Therapy Side Effects [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 10]. Available from: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/radiation/side-effects-of-radiation-therapy.html

3) Mayo Clinic Staff. Breast Cancer Surgery: Options & What To Expect [Internet]. Mayo Clinic; c2019 [updated 2019 Jul16; cited 2022 Jan10] Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/breast-cancer-surgery/about/pac-20384919

4) National Cancer Institute. Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 10]. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy

5) NCI. Targeted Therapy for Breast Cancer Treatment [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Jan10] Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/targeted-therapies-for-breast-cancer-treatment

*Note: this site does not provide medical opinions or diagnosis and should not be relied upon instead of receiving medical attention from a licensed medical professional.

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1WH staff