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Managing Side Effects


Acupuncture can reduce nausea, relieve pain, improve digestion, and lower stress levels for cancer patients.

NCI Resource UW Health Resource

Individuals who have Cigna medical insurance through Kaman are entitled to acupuncture benefits. Please see the Cigna Medical Summary Plan Descriptions for more information.

Practical Tips to Cope with Treatment Side Effects

The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment can cause a number of eating problems that can prevent patients from getting the nutrition they need to fight infection and aid in recovery.

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Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage may reduce cancer symptoms, improve coping, and make you feel better.

Dana-Farber Resource NIH Study

Individuals who have Cigna medical insurance through Kaman are entitled to therapeutic massage benefits. Please see the Cigna Medical Summary Plan Descriptions for more information.

Working with Chemo Brain

If youve have chemotherapy, you may notice that your concentration, memory, or other work skills arent up to par. Up to 30% of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy may experience chemo brain.

Read More Coping with Chemobrain Chemobrain: What You Need to Know Improve Concentration
Understanding and Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects

Each person with cancer reacts differently to chemotherapy and its potential side effects. Fortunately,
doctors now have ways to reduce and even prevent these side effects.

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Happy Cancer Patient
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Happy Women

Side Effects

Alopecia (Hair Loss)

Alopecia, or hair loss and thinning of the hair, is a common and usually temporary side effect of some cancer medicines. It can occur anywhere on the body and may happen after a few treatments.

Download Information Hats for Cancer Patients Men and Hair Loss Wigs for Cancer Patients TLC Wig Collection

Individuals who have Cigna medical insurance through Kaman are entitled to $750 worth of wigs per calendar year. This benefit applies to both in-network and out-of-network providers.


Anemia is another word for too few red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body. When theyre low, muscles and organs do not get enough oxygen to work properly, affecting your quality of life.

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Asthenia (Fatigue)

The most common complaint reported by cancer patients is a condition known as asthenia. Some patients may experience physical, mental, or emotional fatigue for days, weeks, or months that is not relieved by rest.

Download Information Managing Fatigue

Changes to Your Nails

During chemotherapy, you may notice that your nails have become darkened or yellow, cracked or brittle, grow less, break more easily, or develop lines. The area around the nail bed may also become dry, cuticles may fray, and it is possible for the nail to lift off the bed. Most of these changes are not permanent.

Download Information Your Nails: The Final Touch

As you go through different stages of treatment, you might suddenly feel yourself feeling blue, angry, or numb as on the first day you learned of your disease. Its perfectly okay to feel that way.

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Diarrhea is frequent, loose, or watery bowel movements. This may happen several times a day with or without discomfort, including gas, cramping, and bloating.

Download Information Coping with Diarrhea

Distress is an unpleasant experience of a mental, physical, social, or spiritual nature. It can affect the way you think, feel, or act and can make it harder to cope with having cancer.

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Fluid Retention

Fluid retention occurs when water builds up in the tissues of the body. Chemotherapy, especially after several treatments, often causes fluid retention, which tends to occur in the hands, lower legs, and feet.

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Hyperlacrimation is a medical term for too much tearing. It is also called excessive tearing or watering eye. In patients receiving chemotherapy, excessive tearing is generally mild and manageable.

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Lymphedema is a swelling in the arms or legs caused by buildup of fluid. It can be very uncomfortable and make it difficult for wounds to heal.

Download Information Coping with Lymphedema

Some chemotherapies cause problems with muscles such as weakness, tiredness, or pain. Most of the time, patients recover from these problems.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are two of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Finding the best combination of drugs takes time, so patients should inform their doctors and nurses about these symptoms.

Download Information Read Guide Tips for Managing Nausea



Some chemotherapies may cause problems with nerves, resulting in a condition caused neuropathy. You may feel tingling, burning, weakness, numbness, or pain in your hands or feet.

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Neutropenia and Infection

Most chemotherapies reduce the number of germ-fighting white blood cells, which increases the chance of contracting an infection. When the number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) falls below normal, it is caused neutropenia.

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Some chemotherapies cause sores, dryness, irritation, and bleeding in the mouth or throat. These sores can become infected, which is a serious side effect for cancer patients.

Download Information Coping with Mouth Sores


Weight Loss

About half of all cancer patients experience weight loss from the disease itself or its treatment. In fact, weight loss is one of the most common symptoms that may prompt a diagnosis of many cancers.

Download Information Weight Changes and Muscle Loss Appetite and Weight Changes