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Treatment of Breast Cancer – Managing Side Effects

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Treating breast cancer may involve one or more of the treatment options available to your doctor.

Depending on the location and stage of breast cancer, your treatment may be relatively free of side effects or aggressive enough to cause major side effects, which can be debilitating.

​Since your treatment plan is specific to your particular circumstances, your doctor will alert you to possible side effects and suggest steps to reduce or minimize the discomfort. In some cases, additional medications can ease problems such as nausea.

Within the normal range of anticipated side effects, some patients will react more severely than others do. Be prepared to deal with the side effects your doctor anticipates.

In many cases, this involves changes in diet, eating times, normal daily activities and your energy level. It is important to know when conditions fall outside the normal range of anticipated side effects and when you should tell your doctor.

For example, if you have a severe reaction to chemotherapy or targeted therapy drugs, your doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or switch to a different drug that you tolerate better. 

Your doctor may be able to relieve or lessen some of the side effects with additional medications. Some times lifestyle changes such as adjusting eating schedules can offer some relief.

While the side effects of chemotherapy may be unpleasant, the treatment is considered crucial in most breast cancer cases. Marshfield Clinic's cancer team has detailed information on common side effects from treatment.

For patients who have major surgical treatments, care should be taken to avoid infections or damage to the treated area by physical activity. Your doctor will help you understand what to look for and schedule rehabilitation services if appropriate.

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