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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

 

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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 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 Taste Changes in Childhood Cancer


taste changes - cardboardSymptom 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.

Some individuals with cancer experience taste changes during or after cancer treatment.  Some of the taste changes you may notice in your child include:

  • The fact that some foods may taste bland to them;
  • They may not be interested in eating because everything they eat tastes the same;
  • Some foods may taste different to what they did before, especially sweet, salty and/or bitter foods;
  • Your child may complain of a or chemical or metallic taste in the mouth, especially after eating meat or other high-protein foods

Taste changes can cause your child to dislike certain foods or refuse to eat, which will lead to weight loss, fatigue, an impaired immune system, and a lack of energy. This is not good as a child needs every ounce of strength they can get to fight the cancer and endure any cancer treatments they may be undergoing.

There are several possible causes of taste changes related to cancer and cancer treatment.  Understanding the cause of your child’s problem may help you and your health care team manage these changes so that your child can eat again.

Changes in taste can make it difficult for your child to eat healthy foods and maintain their weight. If your child does not want to eat because of taste changes, you should speak to their doctor or treatment team, and possibly also a dietician.

 

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

 

Coping with Sleeping Problems: Insomnia in Childhood Cancer


distressed-teenage-girlSymptom 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.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment can cause a variety of sleeping problems such as Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome, Nightmares, and Insomnia.

Other factors that can also cause these sleeping problems include emotional concerns or medical conditions unrelated to cancer.

We will discuss Insomnia in this article – Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares is dealt with on a separate Page.

Insomnia is defined as an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep; chronic sleeplessness. It could cause your child problems during the day such as low energy, fatigue, poor concentration, and irritability. Most people experience insomnia at some point in their lives; the risk of insomnia increases with age and with serious illnesses, such as cancer.

Insomnia often causes other cancer-related conditions and symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or depression or anxiety, to become worse. Insomnia may also decrease your child’s ability to cope with their cancer and cause feelings of isolation.

Someone with insomnia will often take 30 minutes or more to fall asleep and may get six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week over a month or more.

There are two types of insomnia:

  • Primary Insomnia: Primary insomnia is when an individual is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
  • Secondary Insomnia: Secondary insomnia is when an individual is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).

The goal for managing insomnia is to achieve restful sleep and improve your child’s overall quality of life. Understanding and treating the underlying cause of your insomnia is the best way to do this. There are many methods of tackling insomnia, including medication and natural remedies.

 

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

 

Coping with Sleeping Problems: Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in Childhood Cancer


SLEEPING PROBLEMSSymptom 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.

Cancer and Cancer Treatment can cause a variety of sleeping problems such as Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome, Nightmares, and Insomnia.

Other factors that can also cause these sleeping problems include emotional concerns or medical conditions unrelated to cancer.

We will discuss Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in this article and will deal with Insomnia on a separate Page.

  • HypersomniaHypersomnia causes one to feel very sleepy during the day or want to sleep for longer than normal at night. Hypersomnia may also be called somnolence, excessive daytime sleepiness, or prolonged drowsiness.
  • Somnolence SyndromeSomnolence syndrome is a type of hypersomnia in Children with Cancer that is specifically associated With Radiation Therapy to the head.
  • NightmaresNightmares are vivid, frightening dreams which normally cause one to wake up and remember part or most of the dream. Most people have nightmares from time to time, but the frequency or vividness of nightmares can increase after a cancer diagnosis and during cancer treatment. Frequent nightmares can lead to a fear of going to sleep, restless sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

Hypersomnia is similar to fatigue, but they are not the same. Fatigue is when one is feeling exhausted and has no energy, and the feeling is not relieved by sleep. Excessive daytime sleeping and being unable to stay awake are not signs of fatigue, but may be signs of Hypersomnia.

An increase in emotional stress is a common cause of nightmares. Because having cancer is frightening and stressful, especially for children, it is normal for them to experience some nightmares during treatment and recovery.

Nightmares may be a way in which the mind works through unresolved feelings and fears.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding  Sleeping Problems on our static page, Sleeping Problems: Hypersomnia, Somnolence Syndrome & Nightmares in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Skin Conditions in Childhood Cancer


Skin Conditions in Childhood CancerSymptom 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.

Most of us already know that certain cancer treatments can, in addition to slowing or stopping the growth of cancer, make a person’s hair fall out, but not everyone knows that cancer treatments can also affect a person’s skin, hair, and nails.

Skin problems from cancer treatment are often not severe may get better over time, while others may not go away. Some individuals struggle to cope with skin conditions cause by cancer treatment because they cause visible changes to the body.

Depending on the cause of the skin condition, it can present in various forms, such as rashes, redness, and other types of skin irritation such as blisters, peeling, or swelling in the area of treatment.

This article will introduce you to the signs and symptoms of skin problems that your child may face when undergoing cancer treatment, causes, how to treat or manage those problems, and will also provide you with some good Tips for Children with a Sensitive Skin.

Wearing loose, soft cotton clothing may also help with your child’s discomfort, and special makeup or concealers can help cover up pimples, rashes, or other skin imperfections and improve the skin’s appearance.

Most of the time, prevention is the best way to manage skin problems.

 

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

 

Coping with Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea) in Childhood Cancer


DyspnoeaSymptom 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.

Dyspnoea is a feeling of breathlessness that can be experienced by many people with advanced cancer or those with earlier-stage cancers who have other conditions that affect the heart or lungs. Distinct sensations include effort/work, chest tightness, and air hunger (the feeling of not enough oxygen).

Dyspnoea is a normal symptom of heavy exertion but becomes pathological if it occurs in unexpected situations. In 85% of cases it is due to asthma, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or psychogenic causes such as panic disorder and anxiety.

An individual with a potentially life-threatening blood clot or other emergency, for example, may experience Dyspnoea. It is important to inform your child’s doctor immediately should your child experience any symptoms of Dyspnoea.

While shortness of breath is generally caused by disorders of the Cardiac or Respiratory system, other systems such as Neurological, Musculoskeletal, Endocrine, Hematologic, and Psychiatric may be the cause.

The most common cardiovascular causes are acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure while common pulmonary causes include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Asthma, Pneumothorax, Pulmonary Oedema and Pneumonia.

Dyspnoea may also be caused by a tumour or by other conditions related to cancer, and many of these causes are treatable.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Dyspnoea on our static page, Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea) in Childhood Cancer

 

Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy 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.

Peripheral Neuropathy occurs when the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (Peripheral Nervous System), are damaged. Peripheral nerves carry information back and forth between your brain and spinal cord, called the Central Nervous System (CNS), and the rest of the body.

Peripheral Neuropathies can be classified according to the type of nerve predominantly involved, or by the underlying cause.

Depending on which nerves are affected, you may notice a change in sensation, especially in your child’s hands and feet, such as numbness, tingling, or pain. Your child may also experience muscle weakness (myopathy); and changes in organ function, resulting in constipation or dizziness.

Peripheral Neuropathy can occur in relation to diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, or thyroid disorder; nutritional deficiencies, such as a deficiency in vitamin B12; or inherited conditions, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Peripheral Neuropathy is a relatively common side effect of cancer, and although anyone with a cancer diagnosis is at risk for Peripheral Neuropathy, certain factors can increase the risk.

The treatment used for Peripheral Neuropathy will depend on the cause and associated symptoms. While many individuals do recover fully from the disorder over time, the condition is sometimes more difficult to treat and may require long-term management. Many treatment strategies for peripheral neuropathy are symptomatic.

 

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

 

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