After chemotherapy - discharge
You had chemotherapy treatment for your cancer. Your risk for infection, bleeding, and skin problems may be high. To stay healthy after chemotherapy, you'll need to take good care of yourself. This includes practicing mouth care, preventing infections, among other measures.
Chemotherapy - discharge; Chemotherapy - home care discharge; Chemotherapy - discharge mouth care; Chemotherapy - preventing infections discharge
What to Expect at Home
After chemotherapy, you may have mouth sores, an upset stomach, and diarrhea. You will probably get tired easily. Your appetite may be poor, but you should be able to drink and eat.
Take good care of your mouth. Chemotherapy can cause dry mouth or sores. This can lead to an increase in bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria can cause infection in your mouth, which can spread to other parts of your body.
Rinse your mouth 4 times a day with a salt and baking soda solution. (Mix one half teaspoon, or 2.5 grams, of salt and one half teaspoon, or 2.5 grams, of baking soda in 8 ounces or 240 mL of water.)
Your doctor may prescribe a mouth rinse. DO NOT use mouth rinses with alcohol in them.
Use your regular lip care products to keep your lips from drying and cracking. Tell your doctor if you develop new mouth sores or pain.
DO NOT eat foods and drinks that have a lot of sugar in them. Chew sugarless gums or suck on sugar-free popsicles or sugar-free hard candies.
Take care of your dentures, braces, or other dental products.
Take care not to get infections for up to one year or more after your chemotherapy.
Wash your hands with soap and water often, including:
Keep your house clean. Stay away from crowds. Ask visitors who have a cold to wear a mask, or not to visit. Don't do yard work or handle flowers and plants.
Be careful with pets and animals.
Ask your doctor what vaccines you may need and when to get them.
Other things you can do to stay healthy include:
You will need close follow-up care with your cancer providers. Be sure to keep all your appointments.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Doroshow JH. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 169.
Freifeld AG, Kaul DR. Infection in the patient with cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.
Majithia N, Hallemeier CL, Loprinzi CL. Oral complications. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 40.
National Cancer Institute website. Chemotherapy and you: support for people with cancer. www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Updated September 2018. Accessed March 6, 2020.
Review Date: 2/6/2020
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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