Category Archives: Side Effects

Graft-Versus-Host Disease


Some individuals being treated for certain cancers may undergo a Stem Cell Transplant along with Chemotherapy or Radiation Therapy. In Stem Cell Transplantation, healthy stem cells are taken either from themselves or a donor.

An allogeneic transplant is a procedure which involves using blood-forming stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop) from a genetically similar, but not identical, cancer-free donor who matches the recipient’s tissue type. Most commonly, donors are a close relative, such as a sibling, but could also be an unrelated donor.

Using a donor for stem cell transplants offers what is called a graft-versus-cancer effect, in which the donor’s stem cells (graft) may attack any cancer cells found in the recipient (host).

Unfortunately, however, a stem cell transplant can also cause a condition called graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD).

GVHD is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which the donor cells attack the recipient’s healthy cells, causing a range of medical problems.

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Do Alternative/Complementary Treatments Work for Cancer Treatment Side-Effects?


These days, walking into any major cancer centre looks rather different to a few years ago, because you are likely to see not only ordinary examination rooms, equipment, and chemotherapy suites, but also massage rooms, yoga mats, and possibly even a music therapy room.

This is the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. More and more recent research now supports complementary treatments such as Acupuncture, Yoga, and some diet supplements as good ways to relieve some of the side-effects of Chemotherapy Treatments.

Treatment centres that offer complementary options, as well as the amount of individuals taking advantage of them, have increased dramatically across the globe in recent years, with some studies showing that around 50% of all people undergoing cancer treatment use some kind of complementary option.

Most of the complementary treatments recommended by medical  doctors have few or no side-effects, according to the director of medical content at the American Cancer Society, Ted Gansler, MD, who states that it is fine to try Music Therapy or Meditation, for example, while you follow your standard treatment plan.

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Dysphagia: A Hard to Swallow Side Effect of Conventional Cancer Treatments


As if it is not bad enough to suffer from cancer and have to go through all the pain and stress of the many tests, the diagnosis and the treatments, conventional cancer treatments such as chemo, radiation, and/or surgery come with lingering side-effects that make life very difficult.

One such potential problem is that it can become hard to swallow without experiencing significant pain − a condition known as dysphagia, in which swallowing is difficult and/or painful.

It is difficult if not impossible to ensure that your Child with Cancer gets the correct nutrition to help fight their cancer and heal their body during and post-treatment when it is so difficult and painful for them to eat. Read the rest of this entry

Childhood Cancer & Infertility


Whether your baby, toddler or young child who is currently caught up in the fight of their lives against cancer will eventually be able to have children or not is probably the last thing on your mind, but it may be something that you should take into consideration…

Some cancer treatments do not affect a child’s growing reproductive system, but others can damage a girl’s ovaries, which contain eggs, or a boy’s testes, which contain sperm. This damage may make it impossible to have a baby for a short period after completing cancer therapy or for the rest of the person’s life.

Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, and other cancer treatments can be very effective at doing their job, but what makes them good at fighting cancer can also cause side effects.

One of the side-effects of cancer treatments can affect the reproductive organs and have long-term effects on a child’s reproductive health. Side effects such as reduced fertility as a result of cancer treatments are known as late effects.

Your child’s risk of having late effects depends on his or her diagnosis, the type of treatment your child is getting, and the dosages. Everyone is different so it’s best to discuss the subject with your child’s medical team.

Your child’s doctor should be able to tell you whether their cancer treatment regimen is likely to have short- or long-term effects on your child’s reproductive health or not.

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When Your Child with Cancer is Taking Steroids


child-cancer-and-steroidsSteroids occur naturally within our bodies, but can also be made in the laboratory for medical purposes. They help reduce inflammation and control different functions in our bodies such as the immune system or the way the body uses food. One of their key functions is to reduce inflammation/swelling and ease associated symptoms, such as headaches.

When your child has a tumour in their brain it is not only the tumour itself that causes some of the symptoms they may have, but also the swelling surrounding the tumour. This swelling puts pressure on surrounding tissues making the effects of the tumour wider reaching. This pressure can cause symptoms such as headaches, sickness and seizures (fits).

To help reduce the swelling, Children with Cancer may be prescribed steroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone as part of their treatment. As steroids are fast-acting drugs this could mean that some of the effects caused by the tumour reduce quite quickly. This does not mean, however, that the size of tumour itself has been reduced.

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Coping with Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer


weightlossSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Weight loss is commonplace among individuals with cancer – it is frequently the first noticeable sign of the disease.

Around 40% of individuals with cancer have experienced unexplained weight loss at the time of diagnosis, and as many as 80% of people with advanced cancer experience weight loss and cachexia (wasting), which is the combination of weight loss and muscle mass loss.

Weight loss and muscle wasting are also often accompanied by Fatigue, loss of energy, weakness, and an inability to perform everyday tasks. Individuals experiencing cachexia often cannot manage treatments well and may also experience more intense symptoms.

Nutrition counseling may help your child get Essential Nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals into their diet and maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your child’s healthcare team for help or for a referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Loss on our static page, Weight Loss in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer


23843263_sSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the part of the overall treatment plan.

Around 70% of cancer survivors report difficulties with memory and concentration after undergoing chemotherapy – this is conversationally referred to as “Chemobrain,” which is described as a mental clouding or fogginess, during and after cancer treatment.

Chemobrain refers to the cognitive impairment that can occur after cancer treatment. It’s not limited to people who undergo chemotherapy (surgery and radiation can also contribute), but it’s more noticeable if one has undergone chemotherapy.

Symptoms of chemobrain can be very frustrating because no matter how well your child speaks or writes, it can cause them to forget words that they have used often, making them have to resort to saying “that thing” or “the thing” instead of “that car” or “the cat” for instance.

Chemobrain is partially based on body and mind fatigue. Animal studies have shown that chemotherapy may cause temporary reductions in cell growth in brain areas (e.g. the hippocampus) that control learning and memory.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Chemobrain on our static page, Chemobrain in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer


Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Although most individuals lose weight during cancer treatment, some gain weight. Minor increases in weight during cancer treatment are generally not a problem, but significant weight-gain may affect your child’s health and ability to undergo treatment.

Being overweight could also negatively impact your child’s self-image and could lead to them being teased by other children and become a recluse to avoid taunts. This will severely impact on the emotional as well as physical wellbeing of your child, which is not something they need when they are battling cancer.

If weight gain in your child becomes a problem, speak to their Doctor or Oncology Team before starting them on a diet or changing their eating habits. Your child’s medical team can help find out the possible cause of the weight gain and discuss how best to manage it.

Weight gain can generally be managed quite successfully via Diet & Physical Activity modifications, as can fluid retention via various methods.

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Weight Gain on our static page, Weight Gain in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Thrombocytopenia in Childhood Cancer


Blood_cells_MED_ILL_EN_300Symptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Thrombocytopenia is a blood disease characterised by an abnormally small number of platelets, also called thrombocytes, in the blood. They stop bleeding by helping the blood to clot and plugging damaged blood vessels.

Thrombocytopenia occurs when the body does not make enough platelets, is losing platelets, or destroys platelets. Thrombocytopenia is common in individuals with cancer, especially in those receiving chemotherapy.

Many things can cause thrombocytopenia in children, most commonly infections (especially viral infections) and destruction of platelets by the immune system (called immune thrombocytopenia or ITP). Children with thrombocytopenia may also have lower numbers of other blood cell types, such as red and white blood cells, depending on the cause.

Symptoms often do not occur until the level of platelets is very low, which is why many individuals do not know they have thrombocytopenia until it is diagnosed during a blood test.

Some types of chemotherapy and some other medications damage the bone marrow, lowering its production of platelets. Thrombocytopenia caused by chemotherapy is usually temporary; in very cases, the chemotherapy may permanently damage some of the bone marrow cells that make platelets.

Individuals with certain types of cancer or those who are undergoing a type of cancer treatment known to cause thrombocytopenia may be given regular blood tests to look for thrombocytopenia and other blood-related complications.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Thrombocytopenia on our static page, Thrombocytopenia in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Superior Vena Cava Syndrome in Childhood Cancer


SVCSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) occurs when a person’s superior vena cava is partially blocked or compressed. The superior vena cava is a major vein in a person’s body. It carries blood from the head, neck, upper chest, and arms to the heart. Cancer is usually the main cause of SVCS.

More than 90% of cases of superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO) are caused by cancer – most commonly bronchogenic carcinoma, typically a tumour outside the vessel compressing the vessel wall – but it can, sometimes, have a benign cause.

SVCS is rare in children. However, SVCS in children can be life threatening. If your child has signs of SVCS, it is important to contact their health care team immediately.

A child’s trachea is smaller and softer than an adult’s trachea; this means that it can swell or become constricted quickly, causing breathing problems.

SVCS may develop quickly, completely blocking the airway. When this occurs, a person may need a ventilator to help with breathing until the blockage is treated. More commonly, if the blockage develops slowly, other veins may enlarge to carry extra blood. In these situations, the symptoms may be milder.

Sometimes, people with SVCS may not need treatment until SVCS is diagnosed. Or, they may not need treatment right away. This depends on whether the symptoms are mild, the trachea is not blocked, and blood is flowing well through other veins in the chest. At other times the CVS can be dealt with in various ways.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding SVCS on our static page, Superior Vena Cava Syndrome in Childhood Cancer

 

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