WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Breast cancer is a cancer that starts in the tissue of the female or male breast. It can cause a lump, deformity of the breast, or discharge from the nipple. Breast cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, and brain.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your oncologist as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment and follow-up. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Ask your oncologist about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise may help to decrease the side effects of treatment, such as nausea, vomiting, and weakness. It may also help improve your mood. Stop exercising if you feel pain in your chest, have trouble breathing, or feel dizzy. Do not exercise if you have a fever or if you had anticancer medicines through an IV in the last 24 hours.
Check your breasts for lumps and other changes every month. If you have monthly periods, examine your breasts after your period is over. Contact your oncologist if you notice any breast changes. Ask for more information about how to do breast self-exams.
You may need a mammogram every 6 to 12 months. Ask if and how often you need a mammogram. If you are having monthly periods, have your mammogram done during the first 2 weeks following your monthly period.
- Drink liquids as directed: Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You will also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Limit alcohol: Your oncologist may tell you to limit or not drink alcohol. Alcohol may increase the risk that your breast cancer will come back.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking may increase the risk that your breast cancer will come back. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You cannot make it to your radiation or chemotherapy visit.
- You are vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down.
- You are depressed and you feel that you cannot cope any longer.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your arm swells up and is painful.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded or short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.