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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Oral chemotherapy (chemo) is medicine used to shrink a tumor or kill cancer cells. Oral chemo is usually taken at home as a pill or liquid.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
- Your throat feels swollen and you have trouble swallowing or breathing.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- You feel confused or have a severe headache that does not go away.
- You have arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, or trouble seeing.
- You have a severe headache or severe pain anywhere in your body.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, painful, or looks bigger than usual.
- You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
- Your heart is beating faster than usual.
- You have blood in your urine or bowel movement.
- You urinate a lot less than usual or stop urinating.
- You vomit blood.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever of 100.5° F or higher or chills.
- You have bleeding from your gums.
- You have nausea or vomiting and cannot take your chemo.
- You vomit after you take your oral chemo.
- You miss a dose of chemo.
- You have sores or white spots in your mouth.
- You have constipation or diarrhea for more than 1 day.
- You feel depressed.
- You have frequent, painful urination.
- You have a cough that lasts more than a few days.
- You have bruises on your body that are not caused by an injury or fall.
- You have trouble affording your chemo medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
may be given to help manage side effects of chemotherapy. This may include medicines to decrease nausea and vomiting, or to manage pain. Take your medicines 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.
- Rest as needed. You may feel tired for a few days after taking oral chemo. Return to activities slowly, and do more as you feel stronger.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat small meals throughout the day. This may be easier than eating 3 large meals.
- Drink plenty of fluids. This will help prevent dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Prevent infection. Stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands frequently and ask visitors to wash their hands. Ask family and friends not to visit if they are sick. Do not spend time in crowded places such as movie theaters, malls, or elevators. Ask your healthcare provider if you need vaccines.
- Manage hair loss. Use mild shampoos if your hair begins to thin or fall out. Use a soft bristled brush to comb your hair. If you lose your hair, wash your scalp with moisturizing shampoos or conditioners. Apply lotion and massage your scalp after a shower. Use sunscreen, a hat, a scarf, or a wig to protect your scalp from the sun. Ask your healthcare provider where you can purchase a wig or hair piece.
- Work with your healthcare provider to manage side effects. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have side effects. Take medicines that manage side effects as directed. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to manage certain side effects.
For more information:
It may be difficult for you and your family to go through cancer and cancer treatments. Join a support group or talk with others who have gone through treatment.
- American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street
Atlanta , GA 30303
Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
Web Address: http://www.cancer.org
- National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
Web Address: http://www.cancer.gov
Follow up with your oncologist as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests and treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.