Importance of Watching Your Skin for Changes

Coping With Side Effects From Skin Cancer Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer, then your doctor has probably talked to you about your melanoma cancer treatment options. While surgery to remove the cancer and affected lymph nodes is typically the standard treatment, you may need to undergo additional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, especially if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

While effective in treating malignancies, chemotherapy and radiation can cause significant side effects. Here are some common side effects of cancer treatment and what you can do to feel better as soon as possible

Chemotherapy-Related Nausea And Vomiting

While not all people experience nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy, these symptoms are very common. Some people only experience mild nausea the day after chemo treatments, while others experiencing so much vomiting that they become severely dehydrated.

To reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, eat small, frequent meals, instead of heavy, large meals. If you do not have an appetite, only consume clear broths, flavored gelatin, crackers, and tea. If you still feel sick after a day or so, call your doctor, who will prescribe anti-nausea medication to stop you from throwing up.

Anti-nausea medications work fast to get rid of chemotherapy-related digestive disturbances; however, they can cause extreme drowsiness, blurred vision, weakness, confusion, and dizziness. Avoid strenuous activity and driving while you are taking your medication.

Radiation-Induced Oral And Skin Changes

If your doctor prescribed radiation treatments for you malignant melanoma, you may experience severe fatigue. Other side effects may depend upon the method in which your radiation treatments were administered.

For example, if you were irradiated around the head or neck area, you may experience dry mouth and sores in your mouth. If you experience oral symptoms after your radiation, make an appointment with your dentist, who can prescribe a special mouthwash to help heal your sores and soothe irritated soft tissues. For dry mouth, drink plenty of water during the day, and if you can tolerate it, chew sugarless gum or suck on a hard candy.

Radiation can also cause skin changes such as severe itching, dryness, burning sensations, peeling, and blister formation. If you experience dermatological manifestations after your radiation treatment, your doctor may prescribe special ointments and anti-itch medications to relieve your symptoms. These side effects typically resolve after a few weeks; however, if your skin is seriously damaged, your radiation oncologist may need to alter your treatment protocol or refer you to a dermatologist.

If you have melanoma and suffer from the adverse reactions of your melanoma cancer treatment, consider the above interventions, and then make an appointment with your doctor for further treatment options.