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9. Dealing with treatment side effects

It’s important that treatment side effects are discussed with a doctor. Effective methods of controlling or minimising many side effects do exist – there’s no need for the patient to just ‘put up’ with it all.

With the patient’s permission, ask their doctor what sorts of side effects or symptoms you should be concerned about when they get home and what to do if the patient experiences them e.g. the treating team may have a 24 hour number you can ring for advice or the doctor may suggest ringing 000.

The nurses on the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 may be able to provide some general advice on how to manage.

Healthdirect Australia is a 24 hour health advice line (phone 1800 022 222) staffed by registered nurses who may also be able to provide you with information and advice.

The patient may benefit from attending a “Look Good… Feel Better” workshop to help them deal with the appearance-related side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy such as hair loss and changes to the skin.

Alternatively, and even though each individual’s reactions differ significantly, the following links and fact sheets may provide some useful tips: