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Colorectal Cancer (cont.)

Home Treatment

Managing side effects

You can do things at home to help manage the side effects of colorectal cancer or its treatment. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice on any drugs you are taking. Healthy habits such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep and exercise may help control your symptoms.

  • Home treatment for nausea or vomiting includes watching for and treating early signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, sticky saliva, having smaller than usual amounts of urine, or having urine that is dark yellow. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to help control nausea and vomiting.
    Click here to view an Actionset.Cancer: Controlling Nausea and Vomiting From Chemotherapy
  • Home treatment for diarrhea includes resting your stomach by not eating for several hours or until you feel better and watching for signs of dehydration. Check with your doctor before using any drugs for your diarrhea.
  • Home treatment for constipation includes gentle exercise, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and foods that contain fiber. Check with your doctor before using a laxative.
  • Home treatment for fatigue includes getting extra rest while you are having chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Let your symptoms be your guide. You may be able to stick to your usual routine and just get some extra sleep. Fatigue is often worse at the end of treatment or just after treatment is completed.
  • Home treatment for sleep problems includes going to bed at the same time every night, exercising during the day, and avoiding caffeine late in the day.
  • Home treatment for pain can range from hot packs or cold packs to relaxation or aromatherapy and can improve your physical and mental well-being. Not all forms of cancer and cancer treatment cause pain. Talk to your doctor before using any home treatment for pain.
  • Home treatment for mouth sores can reduce your discomfort:
    • Drink cold liquids, such as water or iced tea, or eat flavored ice treats or frozen juices.
    • Eat foods that are easy to swallow, such as gelatin, ice cream, or custard.
    • Drink from a straw.
    • Rinse your mouth several times a day with a warm saltwater rinse. Mix 1 tsp (5 g) of salt with 8 fl oz (0.2 L) of warm water.

Managing stress

Learning that you have colorectal cancer and being treated for it can be very stressful. There are steps you can take to reduce your stress. You may want to talk with family or friends. Some people find that spending time alone is what they need.

Consider meeting with a counselor or joining a support group of others who have colorectal cancer. Your doctor may also be able to help you find other sources of support and information. Learning relaxation techniques, such as yoga or visualization exercises, may also help you reduce your stress.

Your feelings about your body may change after treatment. Dealing with your body image may involve talking openly about your worries with your partner and discussing your feelings with a doctor.

For more information about learning how to live with cancer, read "Taking Time: Support for People With Cancer" from the National Cancer Institute. This booklet is available online at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime.

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