Day 14 – LUNG CANCER SYMPTOMS vs. TREATMENT SIDE EFFECTS
A SYMPTOM is an indication of a disease. A SIDE EFFECT is any effect of a medicine or procedure that is in addition to its intended effect; a secondondary and typically adverse reaction.
A challenge in managing cancer is addressing the symptoms of cancer AND the side effects of treatment. Frequently, discerning the root cause of an issue, cognitive and neurological problems in learning, processing and balance, for example, is challenging because the oncologist knows this is a frequently experienced side effect of chemotherapies, yet it could also be a symptom of the lung cancer having metastasized (spread) to the brain. It is also common for people with lung cancer to have breathing problems, which can be caused by the cancer itself, or infection, certain chemotherapy drugs, fluid around the lungs or heart, or a condition called radiation fibrosis.
- In Topic/Page #4, we discussed the most common signs and symptoms leading to lung cancer diagnosis, including cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, aches and pains in your chest, back and shoulder, hoarse voice, respiratory infections, headache and dizziness, numbness of an arm or leg, balance problems, seizures, weight loss, bone pain, yellowing of the skin, etc.
- If the cancer is growing or spreading, breathing problems may intensify, neurological concerns such as confusion, agitation, coordination concerns, etc. might be seen, bowel and bladder control issues might arise, bone pain may increase, and seemingly unrelated concerns could be indicative of growth or metastases. Please stay in good communication with your doctors.
Common side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, steroid treatments and radiation are:
Fatigue Infection Bleeding & Blood Chemistry Concerns Dry Mouth
Nausea Vomiting Constipation or Diarrhea Weight Gain or Loss Insomnia
Cognitive (brain processing) Problems Swelling Infertility Joint & Bone pain
High Blood Pressure Hearing Loss/Ringing Blurry Vision Lightheadedness/chest pain/shortness of breath
Peripheral Neuropathy (Tingling in the hands/feet after damage to nerves)
Neurological Impairment (balance, mood changes, etc; learning, memory and attention difficulties )
Sometime, side effects for treatment are seen well after the treatment has been completed.
Longer-term side effects (“Late Effects”):
- Menopause & Hormone Changes Lymphedema (lymph swelling; causes pain & swelling)
- Heart Conditions (ie: congestive heart failure, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), coronary artery disease)
- Inflammation in the lungs Hormone Changes & Imbalances Osteoporosis
- Brain, Spinal Cord & Nerve Problems Hearing Loss Increased Risk of Stroke
- Bone, Joint & Soft Tissue Problems Vision Impairment (including developing cataracts)
- Dental/Oral Health Concerns (gum disease, decreased saliva production Digestion Problems
- Emotional Difficulties (“Survivor’s Guilt”, fear of the cancer returning, depression, anxiety, etc.)
- Secondary Cancers (a new cancer that occurs as a result of previous treatment w/ radiation or chemo)
Writing down details you may not even think are of significance, and communicating well with your medical team, will help them evaluate and share options for your treatment goals!
RESOURCES: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/side-effects, https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/chemotherapy-side-effects.html, https://www.healthination.com/health/coping-with-lung-cancer-stigma?pl=lung-cancer-diagnosis-and-treatment&utm_source=fbpaid&utm_campaign=lung_library&fbclid=IwAR1Su8Ipy75eqvFyCypNk2tGanUnOKSDKcEw1erLxKXTiWSw61u-PLMvh_0, and http://cancer.unm.edu/cancer/cancer-info/cancer-treatment/side-effects-of-cancer-treatment/long-term-side-effects/secondary-malignancies/