After cancer treatment, each individual has their experience journey, which no one can classify. Not even doctors know how impactful side effects will be and how long they will affect. Individuals who undergo cancer treatment know the level of pain and other side effects they have. Consulting to a doctor, nurse, physician assistant regarding the same can help you to feel better.
There are several cancer treatment techniques, but chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most effective and impactful methods. Chemotherapy involves the use of cancer drugs that eliminate cancer cells from being multiplied. Whereas, cancer radiation method destroys cancer cells and shrinks tumours with the help of gamma rays, x-rays, and charged particles. Although, the whole treatment is excruciating and indulges some abdominal side effects.
The abdominal side effects can happen months or years after cancer treatment. The abdominal side effects associated with cancer radiation therapy and high-dose chemotherapy are abdominal pain, abdominal cramping, and flatulence. People generally google things like the side effects of cancer treatment pdf but don’t get the content they want. However, in this blog, we will discuss the common abdominal side effects caused by cancer treatments and ways to relieve them.
Abdominal Side Effects After Cancer Treatments
Mainly, abdominal pain, abdominal cramping, and flatulence are common abdominal side effects after cancer treatment. Before discussing it in detail, we must first understand what they are and their relationship with cancer treatment. Afterwards, what are the ways by which we can treat them?
Following are the common abdominal side-effects after cancer treatment that one can experience:
What Is Abdominal Pain?
Abdominal pain is something that one feels between the chest and pelvis. The abdominal pain is not considered as stomach pain or ache, although it may be just like it. Usually, if someone has abdominal pain, the common reason could be indigestion, abdominal muscle strain, or inflammation. But, there are many more reasons for abdominal pain, whether in terms of a medical procedure or just a casual one.
Abdominal Pain Caused By Chemotherapy
First, we need to understand what exactly chemotherapy is? It is a process in which doctors use drugs or medicines to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is regarded as one of the most effective ways to treat cancer. However, the drugs are generally quite powerful and cause damage to healthy cells. Now you must be wondering what are some of the long-side effects of chemotherapy? Let us find out.
Studies reveal that chemotherapy can lead to either rapid or slow motility of the intestines. Increased or rapid motility generally causes the stool to travel faster, and it can be associated with cramping or diarrhoea. While decreased motility may cause the stool to travel slowly, it may sometimes lead to constipation. One of the significant side effects of cancer drugs is that it alters the normal bacterial flora of the intestines, which causes digestion and leads to abdominal pain, cramps, and flatulence or gas; furthermore, the chances of getting ulcers or perforation increase if someone takes steroids while undergoing cancer treatment.
Radiation Enteritis: Abdominal Pain Caused By Radiation Therapy
The use of high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells in a specific part of the body is known as radiation therapy.
The inflammation or burning sensation of the intestines that occurs after radiation therapy is known as radiation enteritis. This problem is quite common among those who receive radiation therapy in the abdomen and pelvic regions. It generally causes nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.
In general, radiation enteritis is not permanent and typically lessens after several weeks of radiation therapy. However, it continues to hurt people for several months and years after treatment. Furthermore, complications such as anaemia, diarrhoea, and partial bowel obstruction are caused by chronic radiation enteritis.
Now a question, how to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy must have come to your mind. While talking about its treatment, doctors generally focus on relieving the signs until the burning stops. If the situation has become quite complicated, doctors may perform tube feeding or surgeries to remove certain sections of the intestine.
How To Treat Abdominal Pain Caused By Cancer Treatments?
People often consult doctors to know the best radiation or chemo abdominal pain treatment and get perfect suggestions. But we have to follow a specific diet and avoid things that can hurt our abdomen area. We have made a shortlist that can help you manage abdominal pain or cramps.
- Lying down for a few minutes generally helps to relieve abdominal discomfort.
- You should drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor has asked to restrict fluids.
- Avoid things like alcohol and cigarettes; they affect your stomach the most.
- Try to relax and breathe deeply while you experience cramps and pain.
- Eating bland foods in smaller amounts may also help to lower the pain.
- Aspirin products should be avoided unless your doctor has recommended them.
Other Common Side Effects Of Cancer Radiation Therapy And Chemotherapy
Apart from abdominal pain, here is a list of other common side effects associated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
- Fatigue: Fatigue or tiredness is regarded as the most common cancer treatments side effect. This is generally seen in kids; they mostly find themselves exhausted and foggy-headed after the treatment. But there is nothing to worry about, and it is normal. You only have to encourage your child to scale back on activities. After some time, the energy will return back.
- Cold-like Symptoms: Studies reveal that cancer drugs trigger the body’s normal inflammatory response, producing flu-like symptoms. You can get rid of the problem just by drinking lots of fluids. Also, consulting a doctor will help.
- Body Pain: Chemo drugs are also known to cause muscle pain, stomach pain, or headache. Sometimes, it even causes temporary nerve damage, which results in tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. In such cases, doctors can prescribe you certain medicines that may help.
- Mouth Sores: Both chemo and radiation therapy performed around the head or neck can lead to mouth sores, sensitive gums. These treatments also increase the risk of tooth decay. A mouth rinse can be used to avoid excess irritation. The person should eat soft and cool foods while high-acid foods and juices should be avoided. Regular dental checkups are essential if you want to prevent such problems.
- Changes in Weight: Weight changes are pretty common among kids; some may lose weight while others gain weight. Those taking steroids may see an increase in appetite and weight gain in regions such as cheeks or back of the neck. At the same time, some kids might always feel full and have a decreased appetite. A doctor may help you if you are concerned with your child’s weight.
- Hair Loss: We all know that hair thinning and hair loss all around the body are pretty standard during chemotherapy. While radiation therapy to the neck and head also causes hair loss around that area. Unlike chemo, radiation therapy never causes hair loss all around the body. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean that the hair will not grow, the hair will grow back, but there might be a slight change in colour and texture. People generally wear baseball caps, bandanas, or wigs during this period.
To know more about the side effects of cancer treatments, you must visit the University Cancer Centers website. At UCC, we provide affordable treatments for everyone, customised treatment options. Furthermore, we have board-certified physicians who are always available for a one-on-one consultation.