NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 67

67
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
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Part 6: Coping with side effects
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medical marijuana. The active substance in marijuana—a chemical called THC
(
t
etra
h
ydro
c
annabinol)—has been shown to relieve nausea and stimulate
appetite in people receiving chemotherapy. Your doctor can also prescribe a
medication that contains THC such as dronabinol or nabilone. If you choose to
go the more traditional route of smoking an occasional joint (or snacking on the
occasional pot brownie), be sure to let your treatment team know, and educate
yourself about state and federal laws related to the medicinal use of marijuana.
There are also some natural and complementary therapy options for preventing
and calming nausea and vomiting that can be used alongside antinausea
medications, including acupuncture and ginger root (as candy or tea). Staying
well hydrated and eating frequent, small meals can also help.
Hair, skin, and nail changes
Why it happens
Because the cells of your hair follicles, skin, and nails have a very high turnover
rate, they can be damaged by a range of chemotherapy drugs. In addition to the
classic cancer side effect of hair loss (alopecia), cancer treatment can cause
changes in the appearance of your nails and leave them weak and brittle. It can
also cause skin problems such as dryness and, rarely, painful inflammation of
the palms and soles of the feet called hand-foot syndrome.
What you can do
If your treatment plan includes medications that can cause hair loss, you’ll want
to make plans on how to deal with it before treatment starts. (Wig shopping can
be emotionally much easier when you still have your own hair.) Some people find
it helpful to pre-emptively shave their heads or cut their hair short. If you’d rather
preserve as much of your hair for as long as possible, be gentle with it—baby
shampoo, no harsh chemicals, and no blow drying.
Definitions
Chemotherapy:
Drugs
that kill all cells that grow
rapidly, including cancer
cells and normal cells
Complementary therapy:
Treatments given along
with standard treatment
Intravenous:
Drugs given
into a vein
Oncologist:
A doctor who
specializes in treating
cancer
Acronyms
CTZ=
Chemoreceptor
trigger zone
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