Treating Inoperable Lung Cancer: A Nurse’s Perspective

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By Alison Massey, arsenic told to Susan Bernstein

There is simply a cognition that chemotherapy is similar treatments from 20 oregon 30 years ago. They deliberation it volition person broadside effects that are not tolerable, but we person made important advances successful managing the toxicities that travel with these crab medications. People deliberation chemo volition marque them sick, but that’s not the case. Each idiosyncratic attraction regimen has its ain broadside effect profile. If you look astatine the database of imaginable broadside effects, radical tin beryllium overwhelmed. Most radical volition acquisition a broadside effect, but nary 1 gets each imaginable broadside effect.

Generally, radical volition beryllium a small bushed oregon person a dip successful vigor level for a fewer days. But betwixt your treatments, we anticipation that you’ll beryllium capable to unrecorded your mean life. We person galore radical who proceed to enactment betwixt their treatments.

Nausea is different communal broadside effect, but we’ve made advances successful however to negociate nausea you whitethorn acquisition astir your treatments arsenic well. We tin connection patients a scope of anti-nausea medications. Some treatments bash origin hairsbreadth loss, and if that’s the case, we fto you cognize that up front. It’s important to enactment that the immense bulk bash not origin hairsbreadth loss, though immoderate whitethorn origin hairsbreadth thinning. We decidedly person ways to assistance you negociate these issues, including offering a medicine for wigs oregon different resources. With hairsbreadth thinning, we tin besides cheque definite labs oregon get our dermatology colleagues progressive to assistance you.

Fatigue is the main happening you whitethorn acquisition with radiation. Radiation tin origin inflammation successful your assemblage arsenic it kills the cancer. It’s the inflammation that causes the broadside effects. Depending connected what is being radiated, you whitethorn person pain. For example, if you are receiving lung radiation, your esophagus tin beryllium progressive due to the fact that the radiation whitethorn beryllium adjacent to that country of your body. If so, you whitethorn person symptom with swallowing oregon trouble swallowing. You whitethorn adjacent consciousness similar nutrient gets stuck aft you swallow it. People who are having radiation whitethorn not recognize that it could impact swallowing food.

Sometimes radical volition request radiation to a achy lesion. While receiving radiation astatine a peculiar spot for radical with precocious lung cancer, you whitethorn person a flare-up of that pain. Ultimately, the anticipation is that symptom volition disappear. During this time, we tin besides dainty you with symptom medications oregon steroids similar dexamethasone to minimize the inflammation that causes pain.

Checkpoint inhibitors [immunotherapy medications for lung cancer] tin person broadside effects, but they are antithetic than chemo due to the fact that they enactment connected your immune system. These medications tin overactivate your immune system, which leads to the broadside effects. Sometimes, we spot patients make dermatitis, which appears arsenic a rash, oregon acquisition colitis that causes diarrhea, oregon pneumonitis of your lungs, which whitethorn origin shortness of enactment oregon a cough. Checkpoint inhibitors whitethorn besides origin arthritis oregon myositis, which is inflammation of your muscles. Sometimes, we tin adjacent spot swelling of your joints. It’s important that if patients announcement immoderate caller symptoms portion taking a checkpoint inhibitor, they fto america cognize astir it truthful we tin initiate treatment. The quicker you archer america astir these broadside effects, the sooner we tin dainty and reverse them.

Anxiety and slump are 2 things we woody with precise often during crab treatment. In my experience, radical whitethorn consciousness mislaid erstwhile they are archetypal diagnosed. But erstwhile you person recovered your oncologist and your full crab enactment team, and you cognize you person a program of onslaught to dainty your cancer, astir radical consciousness better. Many person a fearfulness of crab treatments and the imaginable interaction of attraction connected your prime of life. We fto radical cognize that they tin inactive unrecorded their beingness and they should proceed to bash the things that they enjoy.

Your temper and outlook whitethorn beryllium connected wherever you are successful your crab attraction people oregon illness progression. Early on, astir radical are much functional and person little fatigue. Some radical whitethorn inactive beryllium capable to work. Others whitethorn request to bent retired astatine location for a fewer days aft each treatment. Our extremity is that you don’t enactment successful furniture the full clip you’re being treated for cancer. Keep an progressive docket arsenic overmuch arsenic you can. Realize that you volition beryllium bushed aft your attraction and program for those days. And don’t hide to inquire for assistance if you request it!

Sleeping good tin besides impact your temper and prime of life. A batch of our patients person insomnia. Often anxiousness whitethorn beryllium causing that insomnia. Your caput is racing, truthful you can’t sleep. Also, immoderate of the meds you instrumentality for nausea oregon steroids for inflammation tin rev you up and origin insomnia. And sometimes an annoying cough tin disrupt your sleep.

Some radical with lung crab whitethorn request to usage supplemental oxygen. In my experience, radical conflict with the thought of wearing oxygen because, similar the relation with hairsbreadth loss, present radical connected the extracurricular are capable to spot that they are sick. But from a aesculapian perspective, it’s important to deterioration it if you request it.

Loss of intersexual relation is thing we tin spot successful some men and women. In my experience, men are much vocal astir this, truthful talk up, ladies, if you person immoderate concerns! Erectile dysfunction tin impact men during crab treatment. Women whitethorn acquisition vaginal dryness oregon symptom during intercourse. If that happens and you fto america know, we tin notation you to a intersexual wellness doctor. Treatments tin besides impact women’s menstrual cycles. If you’re idiosyncratic who could get pregnant, you should beryllium cautious to usage contraception portion you’re being treated for cancer.

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Alison Massey, ANP-BC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.