Physical Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatment

Every cancer is different, and every individual will experience the physical effects of cancer in a different way. However, it’s essential to have an understanding of the symptoms most commonly associated with the disease so that you can seek medical help as quickly as possible. Early detection of cancer is linked to a far more favorable prognosis. 

Treatments that are used to eliminate cancer from the body, such as chemotherapy and radiation, also often have adverse side effects. But thankfully, there are techniques that can alleviate them to some degree, as explored below. 

Although none of the symptoms mentioned in this article are a sure sign of cancer, we’re of the opinion that one should rather be safe than sorry when it comes to matters of health.

Signs and symptoms to look out for

As a general rule, any significant physical changes you notice taking place in your body should not be taken lightly. If you experience sudden weight loss or gain without a clear cause, pain that isn’t associated with a known injury, or a noticeable change in your bowel movements, these could be early warning signs of cancer. A persistent cough, difficulty swallowing, fevers, lumps anywhere on your body, and extreme fatigue are other symptoms commonly associated with the disease. 

There are a number of different reasons why cancer is often responsible for the physical effects mentioned above:

  • Tumours can put pressure on blood vessels, nerves, and organs, causing pain. 
  • Cancer cells use up much of the body’s energy supply as they grow, resulting in fatigue.
  • Cancer cells can release substances that impact how your body uses calories from food which can cause weight changes.

Managing the physical effects of cancer treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment, you may be experiencing a few (or many) unpleasant physical side effects, such as constipation, sleeping issues, bladder issues, and vomiting, to name a few. Below, we share some advice for how to manage these symptoms. 

If you are struggling with constipation (and you have not had intestinal surgery or an intestinal obstuction), try increasing your intake of high-fiber foods (like bran, pears, carrots, and broccoli), drink more water than usual, and incorporate some form of gentle exercise into your day if you are able to. 

Not only is vomiting an extremely unpleasant experience, but it can also lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Thankfully, effective anti-nausea medications do exist so don’t delay speaking to a medical professional to find one that will work best for you. 

Sleep issues are experienced by up to 50% of people who are undergoing cancer treatment and this can have compounding negative effects on the physical and mental health of patients. To manage a lack of sleep, ensure that you have a healthy bedtime routine that includes minimizing screentime before bed, not eating or drinking too much too close to bedtime, and ensuring that your bedroom is as dark and quiet as possible. Doing a few minutes of meditation or breathing exercises while lying in bed will also help you to relax and fall asleep more easily. 

For a more comprehensive list of symptoms and advice on how to manage them, click here. 

A cancer diagnosis leaves no stone of a person’s life unturned, and one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the physical effects associated with both the illness itself and its treatment. By staying attuned to any changes that take place in your body regardless of your stage of life, you can drastically enhance your chances of survival and your quality of life post-diagnosis. 

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