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Side effects. The majority of side effects associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy usually disappear at the end of the treatment. These symptoms are treated with medicines as and when they appear: nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, skin irritations on the hands and feet.
Give up smoking. If you smoke, then it is very important that you quit as it worsens the side effects associated with most treatments, such as loss of appetite and decreased lung capacity.
Alcohol. You are advised not to drink alcohol in excess.
Diet. There is no scientific evidence to suggest you should avoid eating proteins or sugars if you have cancer. No particular food is contraindicated, except on rare occasions due to interactions with certain drugs. Eat whatever you want but in small amounts and several times a day. It is important to maintain your muscular body mass and avoid losing too much weight.
Complementary therapies. They are not contraindicated; however, you should always discuss them with your doctor beforehand.
Physical activity. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should try to follow your normal routine and practice physical exercise if possible. It will help minimise treatment-related side effects and accelerate recovery. Practising physical activity tends to produce a greater feeling of well-being. Ask your doctor about the most appropriate level of activity for you. Similarly, physiotherapy is very important after surgery and whenever patients suffer a loss of muscular mass in their legs.
Sexual intercourse. You can still practice sex. Women of childbearing age should take contraceptive measures to prevent pregnancy during treatment.
Emotional support. There are different patient and family support groups that provide advice and support from people who have suffered a similar situation. Ask staff at your health centre about this type of organisation.
At home, after the surgery
Once at home, it is important to keep the incision area clean and dry, using the instructions given in your hospital centre. The doctor will remove the stitches or surgical staples during the follow-up visit.
It is possible to feel pain in the incision, in the pectoral muscles, and in the shoulders, particularly on breathing deeply, coughing, and making efforts. The doctor will tell you which analgesics to take.
It is important to continue with the breathing exercises.
Whenever possible, avoid exposure to upper respiratory tract infections (flu and colds) and to irritants, such as tobacco smoke, vapours, and environmental contamination.
It is recommended to increase physical exercise gradually, since it will take several weeks to return to the same physical activity as before the surgery.
You must avoid lifting heavy objects for several months in order not to strain the pectoral muscles and the surgical incision.
Let the healthcare team know if any of the following appear: