How Do I Manage the Side Effects of Colon Cancer Treatment?

Colon cancer treatment options such as surgery and chemotherapy can be very effective for removing and destroying cancerous cells. To achieve their respective goals, however, these treatments must be extremely powerful. As a result, some healthy cells and tissues may be damaged during the treatment process. As a result, you may experience a variety of side effects.

The side effects of colon cancer treatment can vary widely among patients, and can also change from one treatment session to the next. The best way to manage your side effects is to have an in-depth discussion with your health care team before you begin treatment. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect and will be better able to prepare yourself to ensure the best possible experience.

Common side effects of colon cancer treatment

Some common side effects of colon cancer treatment, and some potentially effective ways to manage them, include:

  • Extreme fatigue – If you’re feeling worn out or exhausted, try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, take some short naps during the day, eat a variety of nutritious foods, exercise regularly and ask for help when you need it.
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea – Talk with your physician, who can prescribe medications or other strategies to help you cope with these symptoms.
  • Peripheral neuropathy – If you experience tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, or suddenly have a lower tolerance for cold temperatures, try consuming foods and beverages at room temperature, wear warm clothing and keep a pair of gloves by your refrigerator so that you can easily slip them on before reaching inside.
  • Hand-foot syndrome – If the skin on your hands or feet is red, itchy, dry, cracked or peeling, you may find relief from this temporary, chemotherapy-induced condition by applying petroleum jelly or other moisturizers to the affected areas, wearing soft cotton gloves or socks and avoiding prolonged exposure to hot water.

All forms of cancer treatment can potentially cause side effects. However, that doesn’t mean that you must simply tolerate them. In the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team includes supportive care specialists who work closely with each patient to monitor and manage his or her side effects.

If you’d like to learn more about the potential side effects of colon cancer treatment, you can request an appointment at Moffitt by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We accept new patients with or without referrals.