Don't Neglect Mammograms out of Fear

Four Things Patients Should Do When They're Being Treated For Breast Cancer

Although being diagnosed with breast cancer can be scary, it's important to note that breast cancer is increasingly treatable as the years go by. In fact, the average 5-year survival rate for cases of non-metastatic breast cancer in the United States is now 90 percent. 

Nowadays patients have many options when it comes to breast cancer treatment. Patients can minimize the stress of going through breast cancer treatments by being informed and prepared.

The following are four things patients should do when they're being treated for breast cancer. 

Know the signs of lymphedema

Breast cancer patients should know what lymphedema is because some patients experience lymphedema as a side effect of breast cancer. Lymphedema refers to swelling in certain tissues of the chest wall, arm, or hand. 

While lymphedema is not a fatal condition, it is a condition that breast cancer patients need to notify their doctor of and get treatment for. Patients should notify their doctor immediately if they notice swelling in these areas so that they can avoid discomfort and infection while they're being treated for breast cancer. 

Understand the relationship between some breast cancer treatments and osteoporosis risk

The majority of breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive. Certain hormones in the body cause hormone receptor-positive cancers to grow.

To prevent the growth of such cancers, doctors may prescribe patients with estrogen blocker medications as part of hormone therapy treatment for breast cancer. Unfortunately, these medications can have the side effect of weakening a woman's bones because estrogen regulates bone metabolism in the body. 

Patients who are undergoing hormone therapy should understand that they may be at an increased risk of osteoporosis. If osteoporosis runs in their family, they should discuss this with their doctor. 

Pay attention to symptoms of menopause

Women who are being treated for breast cancer may experience menopause symptoms as a result of both chemotherapy and hormone therapy treatments. These symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, and missed or light periods. 

Patients should let their doctor know if they experience menopause symptoms while they are being treated for breast cancer. A patient's doctor may be able to offer treatment or advice to help alleviate menopause symptoms and thereby increase patient comfort. 

Build a support group of people who you can count on

It's important that patients who are undergoing breast cancer treatment have a support group of people who they can talk with about their feelings and concerns during breast cancer treatment.

You can find a support group in your area so that you can rely on the advice and companionship of other patients who have undergone similar treatment experiences.  

For more information about breast cancer treatment, contact a local doctor.