Quelling Nausea, Vomiting In Cancer Treatment, Eating Well After: Useful Advice

Nausea and vomiting are two of the most feared side effects of cancer treatment-with good reason. About half of those treated for cancer experience these adverse reactions, which can lead to fatigue, dehydration, loss of appetite, and slow wound healing.

Yet such complications are not inevitable. "Today, with newer and more effective medications to control nausea and vomiting, people do not have to suffer," say the National Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. That's why the two organizations have teamed up to produce Nausea and Vomiting: Treatment Guidelines for Patients with Cancer. The free, 36-page booklet lists more than 50 chemotherapy drugs, rating them from 1 to 5 for their likelihood of causing queasiness-and worse. Then it lists about a dozen medications that can control the unwanted symptoms. Also provided are descriptions of psychological approaches to controlling nausea, including self-hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, and guided imagery (mentally removing oneself from the chemotherapy site and "relocating" to a relaxing place).

A section on radiation therapy details various side effects. Radiation for breast cancer, for instance, can lead to heartburn and difficulty swallowing. Radiation for prostate cancer can bring on gas, bloating, and difficulty tolerating milk products. There are also tips for eating nutritiously during cancer treatment, a detailed outline of which anti-nausea drugs go with which chemotherapy and/or radiation regimens, and discussions of when nausea might occur during treatment.

For your free copy of the booklet, call the National Comprehensive Cancer Network at (888) 909-6226 or the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345. You can also find the booklet on their respective Web sites: www.nccn.org or www.cancer.org.

After the treatments
You survive the cancer-and the treatments-and life goes on (as it does for 8.5 million other Americans who have done so). What's the best way to eat to help prevent a recurrence? "Many questions remain about the best diet for cancer survivors," says the American Institute for Cancer Research. But the organization points out that eating a largely plant-based diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol use, all guidelines for cancer prevention, might also help to prevent a second bout of the disease. And in its booklet, Nutrition and the Cancer Survivor, you'll find tips for just how to develop those healthful habits. Also included is information on how to avoid nutrition scams (to which cancer survivors might be particularly vulnerable in their quest to stay healthy), along with phone numbers and Web sites for resources. For a free copy, call (800) 843-8114, extension 17, or surf to www.aicr.org. Visit us on the Web:www.healthletter.tufts.edu

Did you know...The number of newborns with neural tube defects has declined nearly 20 percent since a 1998 government ruling that foods be fortified with folic acid.

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