Author: Cheryl Heaton
If you have recently been diagnosed with cancer you likely have several questions. Common concerns are often regarding pain, hair loss, and treatment options. In this article, we address answers to some common questions patients have after a diagnosis of cancer.
Can cancer treatments cause pain?
If you were diagnosed with cancer, you might understandably fear that you will be in pain. However, a diagnosis of cancer does not necessarily mean you need to live with pain. There are several treatment options that providers can now use to reduce or eliminate pain.
Both medication and non-medication options may be offered. The most crucial piece of information for treating pain comes from you, the patient. Be honest about any pain you are experiencing with your oncologist to develop a plan.
Cancer in itself may cause pain, but treatments necessary to treat cancer can contribute to increased pain. According to the American Cancer Society, those with advanced cancer may experience more pain.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used as treatment options for many forms of cancer. Each treatment may contribute to different symptoms and areas of pain in cancer patients.
Chemotherapy patients can experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Patients can experience pain, burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness in their arms, legs, feet, or hands with the condition. Chemo-therapy induced nerve damage is the contributing factor to the condition.
Additionally, chemotherapy can cause mouth sores and pain. It is important to share any symptoms immediately with your oncologist.
Radiotherapy pain is often associated with the area treated. Common causes of pain include burns, scarring, and sores in the mouth. Oncologists take measures to reduce the risk of pain as much as possible.
What cancer treatments work well for melanoma?
Treatment for melanoma is dependent on the stage of cancer. Effective therapies may include chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy drugs, and immunotherapy.
Several different types of immunotherapy may be used for melanoma:
- interleukin-2 is a medication which is a “man-made” protein that also stimulates the immune system against melanoma
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors include PD-1 inhibitors, PD-LI inhibitors, and CTLA-4 inhibitors. These medications target specific proteins to elevate the immune system to attack melanoma.
- Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is derived from the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. However, in the vaccine form, it does not cause the disease. It stimulates an immune response that can effectively treat some melanomas.
- Oncolytic virus therapy is lab altered and generated viruses that can destroy cancer cells. These viruses may also stimulate an immune response. Talimogene laherparepvec (Imlygic) or T-VEC is an oncolytic virus specifically developed to fight melanoma. It is injected directly into the tumor to stimulate a response.
- Imiquimod cream also stimulates the immune system against melanoma. It is a cream that may be applied 2-5 times a week, usually for 3 months. It may not be effective for more advanced melanomas.
What cancer treatments can cause hair loss?
Both chemotherapy and radiation can cause hair loss. With radiotherapy, it is usually dependent on the area of the body treated.
There are several ways to manage hair loss, including:
- Only use gentle products and hair tools such as brushes and combs on hair.
- Using wigs, scarves, shaving or cutting hair short if hair loss occurs
- Using sunscreen, hats, and scarves when outside
- Understand it will grow back after treatment. Hair usually grows back 2-3 months after chemotherapy and 3-6 months after radiation.
Unlike chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy and radiofrequency ablation for cancer DO NOT cause hair loss. These treatments work through different mechanisms to target cancer cells, so patients do not experience hair loss as a side effect. Both immunotherapy and radiofrequency ablation have been used in recent years as new, experimental cancer treatment options.
Why do cancer treatments fail?
There has been recent evidence of the connection between digestive health and the success of immunotherapy treatment. Dr. Williams explains this connection in his book, The Immunotherapy Revolution: The Best New Hope For Saving Cancer Patients Lives.
In the chapter titled: Gut Flora: The Key To Successful Immunotherapy, Dr. Williams explains:
“When I hear of patients who have failed traditional immunotherapy, one of the first questions I ask myself is, did they have the right bacterial flora in their intestinal system? Were they eating a high fiber diet and taking the appropriate pre- and probiotics that they needed for their gut to enhance their immune system? Were they even aware of the connection between gut flora and the immune system? Chances are, they weren’t.
I have to admit that when I first realized that the intestinal flora played a critical role in the function of immunotherapy, I was a bit shocked. Of course, I had known for years that many integrative doctors recommended probiotics, which are bacteria and yeast that aid in the digestive process. I also knew that the gut is a major part of the immune system. But I hadn’t appreciated the role of intestinal flora until the publication of two key studies showing that the appropriate bacteria on the intestine are critical for the function of today’s current immune checkpoint inhibitors. Until then, I felt that these new immunotherapy drugs were so powerful that they stood on their own. I now know that intestinal bacteria is so crucial to effective immunotherapy that I can mean the difference between treatment success and failure”.
Where Can I Find Additional Information on Revolutionary Cancer Treatment?
If you’d like to know more about successful immunotherapy in Mexico or have additional questions about cancer treatment options you will find an answer in Dr. Williams’ book: The Immunotherapy Revolution: The Best New Hope For Saving Cancer Patients Lives.
Williams Cancer Institute offers advanced cancer treatments, such as intratumoral immunotherapy and cryoablation, to help improve disease prognosis, boost patient outcomes, and reduce side effects. Our services are available at our clinic in Mexico City, Mexico. We treat patients from around the world, including USA, China, Thailand, Qatar (Doha), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and more.
If you or a loved one have any more questions or need information about this new cancer treatment, Intratumoral Immunotherapy for cancer, give us a call at Williams Cancer Institute.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.