Managing the Side Effects of Kidney Cancer and Cancer Treatment
by Debra Wood, RN
Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only the most common reactions are listed. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special steps. Use each of these drugs as advised by your doctor or the booklet they came with. If you have any questions, call your doctor.
Medicine may help ease or prevent side effects of treatment, or to control certain side effects once they happen. These effects can happen from kidney cancer or its treatment.
Lack of Appetite
A loss of appetite is common during cancer treatment. Feeling tired, discomfort, nausea, dry mouth, mouth sores, and loss of taste can discourage eating. To manage these problems:
Nausea and Vomiting
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause nausea and vomiting. You may be given medicine that can help.
Some people also find hypnosis, guided imagery, relaxation techniques, and acupuncture helpful.
Daily habits that may help include:
A dietitian can help you choose foods that will not cause more problems.
Your skin can become sensitive. Try to protect your skin:
Cancer and treatment can both make you feel tired. It can cause changes such as low red blood cells which make it harder for your body to work. Emotional stress and low nutrition will also have you feeling tired. Treatment such as medicine or vitamins can help to balance the effects of cancer or treatment. Counseling can help you balance stress.
Rest when you need to. Balance periods of activity with rest. Let your team know how you are feeling throughout treatment.
Mouth and Lip Sores
Chemotherapy can cause the mouth or lips to develop sores. To help with this problem:
Going through treatment for cancer is stressful. Ask your care team for options to help manage stress. Therapy and group support can be helpful. It can help you develop new thought patterns. Regular exercise may also help.
Cancer drugs affect the white blood cells that fight infection. This may make you more prone to infection. Other side effects include bruising or bleeding easily, or feeling tired. Medicine, other treatments, or self care may help you manage these risks.
Chemotherapy can cause hair loss. There are many services to help you cope with hair loss. A scarf or hat can help to protect the skin on your scalp. You may also choose to wear a wig. Ask your care team whether your treatment may lead to hair loss and what steps may help.
Some medicines, especially pain medicines, can cause constipation. Whole grain foods and plenty of fluids can help to prevent or ease constipation. Staying active with exercise is also a good way to prevent this side effect.
Diarrhea can happen with certain cancer treatments. Caffeine, alcohol, spicy or fatty foods, and large meals can make it worse. Replace lost fluid with juice, broth, water, or a replacement fluid.
Opioids may be ordered to control pain or discomfort. They include:
Opioids act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. They may cause dependence, which leads to addiction. You will be watched by your doctor if you have to take opioids.
Percocet is a combination of an opioid and acetaminophen. They may help pain better than either one used alone.
Some problems are:
When taking any medicine:
Cancer pain. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/pain.html. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cancer-pain. Updated July 1, 2019. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Opioids for chronic cancer pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated December 20, 2019. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Radiation therapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/radiationttherapy.pdf. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Side effects. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects. Accessed February 28, 2020.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/5/2021
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