If you are a cancer survivor, you need to know that you can begin to live an active, healthy, and full life. After completing cancer treatment, you can make decisions you may have been putting off, such as what you want to experience with your loved ones and friends. Eventually, you will want to resume responsibilities you have had to put on the back burner for a while and begin to feel more self-sufficient.
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Unfortunately, cancer is a well-armed and very prepared opponent when it attacks the body. This means that the treatment to send cancer to the curb must be just as tough...and it is.
Cancer treatments are designed to slow the growth of, kill, and prevent new cancer cells from growing. The medicine used must be very potent in order to eliminate this disease. Unfortunately, this means that life after cancer often comes with both short and long-term side effects including dental disorders.
This is your guide to an in-depth look at which cancer treatments cause dental disorders, why they cause oral health issues, the most common dental issues experienced by cancer survivors, and how to manage and prevent them.
When you were being treated for cancer, you may have experienced loss of appetite, changes to your senses of taste and smell, and bouts of nausea. Eating regularly while you were going through treatment may have felt more like a chore. But now, as a cancer survivor, you’re likely to regain your appetite.
It’s important to be mindful of what and how much you’re eating as you get back into a more regular routine. Some survivors are looking to regain after losing too much weight while other survivors may want to maintain or even lose a few pounds after treatment. Using the end of cancer treatment as a fresh start, it’s a good time to focus on practicing healthy eating habits.
Transitioning from a cancer patient to a cancer survivor signifies that you have physically healed from cancer. It does not mean you’ve physically healed from the effects of chemo. You’re probably still experiencing side effects. Survivorship also doesn’t mean that you have healed emotionally. Emotional wellbeing is much harder to measure. And right now, during yet another life transition, you and your family could be experiencing a lot of different feelings.
Chemotherapy plays an important role in most cancer patients’ treatment regimens – because it’s very effective at killing fast-growing cancer cells throughout the body. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also kills fast-growing healthy cells. As a result, many cancer patients experience both short- and long-term side effects of chemotherapy.
Most people are familiar with the short-term side effects of chemo, which often include:
It’s no secret that cancer treatment takes an emotional and physical toll on patients. According to the American Cancer Society, the goals of cancer treatment include shrinking cancerous tumors to make them easier to remove surgically, killing cancer cells in the body, and/or controlling cancer so it does not grow and spread. Chemotherapy, steroid medications, and hormonal therapies used to achieve these goals sometimes have unwelcome side effects in cancer survivors, including osteoporosis.
As a cancer survivor, your goal is probably to resume your familiar lifestyle as quickly as possible. You may be feeling more like your old self again with a growing appetite and the ability to enjoy the flavors in food once again. If also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage before cancer, you may be wondering if that’s acceptable after cancer treatment. You may be right to think twice about drinking alcohol after cancer.
When you were being treated for cancer, you probably experienced some unpleasant side effects of the medications and therapies prescribed to treat your cancer. These side effects probably weren’t entirely shocking because you were told to expect them.
Cancer Survivorship and Sleep Disorders
As you transitioned to being a cancer survivor, you probably expected the unpleasant side effects to go away. Fortunately, many of them probably did. One side effect that often continues to affect cancer survivors (or that may develop as a brand-new symptom after cancer treatment is complete) is a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders in cancer patients are most common after chemotherapy. While sleep disturbances usually improve for cancer survivors, lingering sleep problems sometimes last for years after cancer treatment ends.
As a cancer survivor, it’s probably safe to assume that during your journey you’ve developed a true appreciation of life. You know firsthand what it feels like to receive a serious diagnosis, the uncertainties of living with cancer, and the feelings of joy, relief, and gratitude when you beat it. Thanks to your unique life experiences, you may feel compelled to sign up as an organ donor so you can give the gift of life to someone else.
There is a Huge Need for Organ Donors
According to Donate Life Northwest, while 95% of Americans support the idea of being an organ donor, only 56% are registered as organ donors. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS):