Mesothelioma Treatment Side Effects: Part 2
In Mesothelioma Treatment Side Effects: Part 1, we discussed some of the most common side effects of treatments for mesothelioma – namely, fatigue, nausea, hair loss and skin damage. In this Part 2, we’ll continue by addressing the gastrointestinal side effects that come from chemotherapy, as well as ways to deal with them.
Chemotherapy is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is one of the most effective mesothelioma treatments, especially when delivered alongside surgery and radiation therapy. On the other, chemotherapy is notorious for its unpleasant GI side effects.
Still, from our decades of experience helping mesothelioma patients at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we’ve found that it is better to know what’s coming so you can be prepared for it.
Here, then, are the GI side effects of chemotherapy for mesothelioma:
- Loss of appetite. Chemotherapy often delivers a one-two punch to your appetite, by knocking you out of commission with nausea and then preventing you from wanting many meals. Occasionally, chemo may also temporarily play havoc with your sense of taste. To get around low appetite, try eating small meals every couple of hours. Seeing a dietitian is usually helpful, since they can help you optimize every bite you take. Try eating with family or friends. Typically, creamy or hearty soups, thick shakes, protein-heavy meats, cheeses, peanut butter and sweets go down easiest.
- Digestive difficulties. Some chemo regimens also cause diarrhea or constipation. If you find yourself with loose or watery bowels, your diet may need to shift. Ease off the proteins and eat more easily digested stuff. Applesauce, white rice, toast and bananas are excellent. Drink tea or broth, too. Most importantly, drink as much water as you can, since diarrhea can quickly dehydrate you. This rule holds true for constipation, too. If you have not had a bowel movement in two or more days, eat high-fiber foods, bran, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and drink plenty of fluids. A little physical activity can also help in both cases.
- Oral/throat problems. After chemo, you might find that your mouth, lips or throat become dry or painful. For chapped lips, use lip balm and sip on water. To keep your mouth and throat moist, drink plenty of fluids. Try sucking on ice chips. If your mouth or throat hurts, eat unspiced or fairly bland foods. Watch out for citrus, which can really sting. Do not smoke or drink alcohol. Let hot foods cool, and warm up cold dishes, to prevent excess mouth pain. Take good care of your mouth by brushing regularly and rinsing with salt water. If you have trouble swallowing or notice white spots or sores in or around your mouth, talk to your doctor about it.