Possible Side Effects Of Chemotherapy
Chemo drugs can cause side effects. These depend on the type and dose of drugs given and how long they are used. The side effects of chemo can include:
- Hair loss
- Increased risk of infection
- Easy bruising or bleeding
These side effects usually go away once treatment is finished. There are often ways to lessen side effects. For example, drugs can help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. Be sure to ask your doctor or nurse about drugs to help reduce side effects.
Some chemo drugs can have other side effects. For example, some drugs can damage nerves, which can lead to symptoms such as pain, burning or tingling sensations, sensitivity to cold or heat, or weakness. This condition is called peripheral neuropathy. It usually goes away once treatment is stopped, but for some people it can last a long time.
Be sure to talk with your cancer care team about what to expect in terms of side effects. While you are getting chemo, report any side effects to your medical team so that they can be treated promptly. In some cases, the doses of chemo may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped to prevent side effects from getting worse.
How Is Topical Chemotherapy Applied
Topical chemotherapy is available in a cream or lotion form and goes by several names, including Efudex, Cara and Aldara. Applying the medicated cream is similar to applying any type of lotion or moisturizer. The patient typically applies a thick layer of the cream to the affected areas and rubs the cream into the skin. Skin cancer dermatologists recommend that patients place a bandage over the cream, especially if the patient plans to shower later or spend any time outside. Patients will usually apply the cream at least two times every day for several weeks or until inflammation occurs.
Chemo Skin Care Step : Skin Cleansing
- Use only gentle cleansers that dont strip your skin’s natural oils, which leads to a breakdown of your skins fragile outer-barrier called the stratum corneum. Use only warm water, not steamy hot water to protect your skin from becoming damaged. Skin with a weakened stratum corneum can’t protect you against the stresses and germs out in the world! Switch your cleansers right now to support your skins new fragility.
- Even with gentle cleansers, you need to be sure not to over-clean your skin. You also need to rinse even gentle cleansers off of your skin thoroughly.
- For your body, that usually means lathering up only the parts of your skin that have the body odor glands including your armpits, groin, buttocks, and feet.
- If you have oily skin, you also need to use cleanser on the oily areas of your back, neck, and chest.
- For your face, use the mildest cleanser that does the job. Dont shoot for that tight, “squeaky clean” feeling after washing because that means that you removed too much of your natural oils and actually irritated your skin.
- For your hands, it means using cleanser only on your palms most of the time the skin on the back of your hand rarely gets into germs and grime, and its so much more fragile and prone to dryness. Also, rinse all of the cleanser out from between your fingers where dish pan hands usually starts because of retained soap residue.
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What Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of all cancers in the United States and is identified when the cells that make up our skin begin to grow and rapidly divide in a disorganized manner. There are 3 main types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer and may also sometimes be referred to as “non-melanoma skin cancer.”
Melanoma is not as common as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, but is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If left untreated or caught in a late stage, melanomas are more likely to spread to organs beyond the skin, making it difficult to treat and increasing the chances of death from skin cancer.
Fortunately, if skin cancer is identified and treated early, most are cured. This is why it is important to take a few safeguards and to talk with your healthcare provider if you think you are showing any signs of skin cancer.
Who Is At Risk For Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. The exact cause of someones cancer may not be known. But risk factors can make it more likely for a person to have cancer. Some risk factors may not be in your control. But others may be things you can change.
The most common risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer include:
- Greater amount of time spent in the sun
- The use of tanning booths and sunlamps
- Certain features, such as fair skin, light hair , and green, blue, or gray eyes
- Lots of freckles
- HPV infection
- Certain rare inherited conditions, such as xeroderma pigmentosum
Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for nonmelanoma skin cancer and what you can do about them.
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What Is Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Cancer is made of changed cells that grow out of control. The changed cells often grow to form a lump or mass called a tumor. Cancer cells can also grow into nearby areas. And they can spread to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis.
Skin cancer is a disease that begins in the cells of the skin. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. The most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancers are basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer. Basal cell skin cancer is much more common than squamous cell skin cancer. Both types are most often caused by sun damage.
There are other types of nonmelanoma skin cancer. These include:
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Kaposi sarcoma
Side Effects Of Chemotherapy Cream
The treatment should make the skin red and inflamed. The area may become sore and leak fluid. If the skin reaction is particularly severe, the treatment may be paused or sometimes stopped.
Your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream to help with the inflammation. The skin usually takes about 2 weeks to fully heal after you finish the treatment. But it can take longer.
Try to protect the treated area from the sun, as it can make the inflammation worse. Usually, there are no other side effects with this type of chemotherapy.
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Skin Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Skin
The skin is the bodys largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis and the dermis . Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells:
- Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
- Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
- Melanocytes: Cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to darken.
Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most common in skin that is often exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, and hands.
How To Apply Chemotherapy Cream For Skin Cancer
Your doctor, nurse or a pharmacist will give you the cream to put on at home. It is important to follow the advice they give you.You apply the cream on either once or twice a day. The area can usually be left uncovered. But your doctor or nurse may advise you to cover the area with a waterproof dressing after putting on the cream. You usually use the cream for 4 weeks.
Cancer Treatment Side Effect: Skin Changes
Did you know that cancer treatments can cause changes to your skin? Sometimes these changes are simply cosmetic, but other times they may require attention from your care team.
What types of cancer treatments cause skin changes?
All cancer treatments have side effects, but patients are sometimes surprised by the skin changes they see when receiving chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Since these therapies are used to treat a variety of cancers and were constantly expanding and improving their use through clinical trials skin changes are common.
What are common skin changes during cancer treatment?
The most common things we see are rashes and dry skin, which may be accompanied by itchiness or burning of the skin.
Chemotherapy and immunotherapy can also change the color, or pigment, of the skin, but its less common. You may not even notice. Depending on the therapy, you may see lightening or darkening of skin, hair and nails.
A less common side effect that we see with newer treatments is the development of new growths, such as moles, warts and raised areas of the skin.
Its important to know that the type of skin side effect you may experience depends on your medical history and the type of treatment youre receiving, so talk with your doctor about what you should expect.
Nutrition And Diet For Skin Cancer
Skin experts know that the mineral zinc and the antioxidant vitamins A , C, and E can help repair damaged body tissue and promote healthy skin. Now, researchers are trying to determine whether these and other nutrients might protect skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. To test the theory, selected skin cancer patients are given experimental supplements of these vitamins in the hope of preventing cancer recurrence.
Nicotinamide 500 mg twice daily helps to reduce the incidence for squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers by 23%.
Polypodium Leucotomos oral supplement has been shown to alter the effects of UVB light.Also studies suggest that alcohol consumption can increase the risks of skin cancer and melanoma- stay tuned for more definitive studies.
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Risk Of Further Melanomas
Most people treated for early melanoma do not have further trouble with the disease. However, when there is a chance that the melanoma may have spread to other parts of your body, you will need regular check-ups. Your doctor will decide how often you will need check-ups everyone is different. They will become less frequent if you have no further problems. After treatment for melanoma it is important to limit exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. As biological family members usually share similar traits, your family members may also have an increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. They can reduce their risk by spending less time in the sun and using a combination of sun protection measures during sun protection times. It is important to monitor your skin regularly and if you notice any changes in your skin, or enlarged lymph glands near to where you had the cancer, see your specialist as soon as possible.
Best Gentle Hand Cleansers To Prevent Hand Dryness During Chemo:
Hand washing is essential during chemo to prevent getting sick from infections. Because you need to wash your hands numerous times during the day during chemo, your hand skin is extremely susceptible to dryness and eczema. You MUST avoid harsh hand cleansers. And most definitely, do not use dish-washing soap when you are in the kitchen, or heavily scented soft soaps to wash your hands in the bathroom.
To clean your hands without drying out the skin, keep a pump bottle of a gentle liquid hand soap with a foamer at every sink.
The foamer allows you to clean your hands well with less soap. The foamed soap also rinses off better than a thicker cleanser to help you avoid the risk of soap residue remaining on your skin soap residue damages skin lipids and protein that make up your skin barrier. This leads to irritation, wounds and potential infection. Youll be surprised how much this simple step prevents the chapping of your hands.
Remember, keep your skin care products hypoallergenic. This means avoid hand cleansers that are loaded with extra ingredients like fragrances these are potential allergens. I’m also not a big fan of anti-bacterial ingredients because they can be irritating. I prefer a good hand washing with a gentle foaming cleanser.
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Cancer May Spread From Where It Began To Other Parts Of The Body
- Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
- Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if skin cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually skin cancer cells. The disease is metastatic skin cancer, not lung cancer.
After Squamous Cell Cancer Of The Skin Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Skin Or To Other Parts Of The Body
The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the skin or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
Basal cell carcinoma of the skin rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Staging tests to check whether basal cell carcinoma of the skin has spread are usually not needed.
The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin:
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Where You Go For Chemotherapy
You may receive chemotherapy during a hospital stay, at home, or as an outpatient at a doctorâs office, clinic, or hospital. Outpatient means you do not stay overnight. No matter where you go for chemotherapy, your doctor and nurse will watch for side effects and help you manage them. For more information on side effects and how to manage them, see the section on side effects.
Remission And The Chance Of Recurrence
A remission is when cancer cannot be detected in the body and there are no symptoms. This may also be called having no evidence of disease or NED.
A remission may be temporary or permanent. This uncertainty causes many people to worry that the cancer will come back. While many remissions are permanent, it is important to talk with your doctor about the possibility of the cancer returning. Understanding your risk of recurrence and the treatment options may help you feel more prepared if the cancer does return. Learn more about coping with the fear of recurrence.
If the melanoma returns after the original treatment, it is called recurrent cancer. It may come back in the same place , nearby , or in another part of the body .
When this occurs, a new cycle of testing will begin to learn as much as possible about the recurrence. After this testing is done, you and your doctor will talk about the treatment options. Often the treatment plan will include the treatments described above, such as surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, but they may be used in a different combination or given at a different pace. Your doctor may suggest clinical trials that are studying new ways to treat this type of recurrent cancer. Whichever treatment plan you choose, palliative care will be important for relieving symptoms and side effects.
How Chemotherapy Is Used With Other Cancer Treatments
When used with other treatments, chemotherapy can:
- Make a tumor smaller before surgery or radiation therapy. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
- Destroy cancer cells that may remain after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy. This is called adjuvant chemotherapy.
- Help other treatments work better.
- Kill cancer cells that have returned or spread to other parts of your body.
Medication For Squamous Cell Cancer
At NYU Langone, people with advanced squamous cell carcinoma may receive chemotherapy along with targeted drugs to help shrink the cancer. Chemotherapy drugs are usually given through a vein with intravenous infusion and may include medications such as cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, or doxorubicin. Doctors usually give chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma once every few weeks, over a period of several months.
People with weakened immune systems, including those who have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressive medications, may benefit from retinoids, medications related to vitamin A, or capecitabine, a chemotherapy drug taken by mouth. These medications may help prevent squamous cell cancers from growing rapidly and spreading further.
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