You just finished, what you think is the last of your breast cancer treatment, whether that was surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, reconstruction, etc, but you now are experiencing side effects. It is very common that some of the side effects that you experienced during treatment, never really go away. Some, get slowly better and stop, however some side effects do not go away, or can develop months or years after your treatment has completed. You may be wondering what these long-term side effects mean, what they are or how they can be treated. Read along through this long-term side effects guide, where we will be answering all of your questions and please feel free to reach out to us at 866-879-1744 if you have any further questions that you would like answered.
What are long-term side effects and why are they important?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world, with more and more people being diagnosed every year. Detection methods for breast cancer and treatments are improving, however that does not mean that being treated or surviving breast cancer means that you don’t have to live with the disease anymore. Almost every person that has been treated for breast cancer will experience physical and emotional effects, which are often long-lasting and can sometimes be severe. Awareness to these effects is so important, so more people know about them, know what to expect about them and know how to manage them for efficiently.
What are the long-term side effects?
Long-term or late side effects of breast cancer are side effects that continue or develop after treatment for breast cancer stops. These side effects can be cause by different types of treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery. There are at least 10 different side effects that are associated with breast cancer and its treatment, each of which have varying symptoms that you need to be on the lookout for. The following are the more common or impactful symptoms include:
Why do long-term side effects matter?
Emotional and social impact
When these long-term side effects are left untreated, they can lead to anxiety and depression. There is also long-term changes in body appearance (ex. Loss of body parts, scarring, skin changes) and functioning (ex. Numbness, pain) associated with treatment can also negatively impact self-esteem, body image and sexual function.
All of those, in turn, can interfere with personal and professional relationships, which can create challenges to existing relationship and the formation of new relationships. Long-term side effects can even have a wider impact on people’s lives beyond their health and relationships. Even long after a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, people can report a change in employment status, such as a job loss. This could then add to a financial burden of ongoing care costs and may have a wider impact to society.
Impact on quality of life
Experiencing breast cancer (any cancer really) can substantially impact the quality of your life, even long after you have received treatment. Aside from their impact on emotional wellbeing and quality of life, the consequences of long-term side effects, like depression and chronic heart disease can be life-threatening.
What can I do about my long-term side effects?
There is an urgent need for greater awareness of long-term side effects, so that more people know about the effects and more people know what to expect from the effects. The long-term side effects materials developed by the Global Breast Cancer Council (GBCC) aims to improve the awareness and to help people who are living with breast cancer feel less alone.
The Global Breast Cancer Council is a group of patient group leaders, patients, nurses, and doctors who represent diverse organization around the world and have a broad range of knowledge and experience relating to breast cancer. The GBCC was set up as a forum to share knowledge, provide expert advice, find ways to meet people's needs and listen to the breast cancer community worldwide.
Speaking to patients and their loved ones in your communities about the long-term side effects and encouraging them to seek medical advice about their concerns or symptoms about their treatment and cancer can help.
Here at AnaOno we never want anyone to feel alone, which is why he have built a community where you can feel safe to talk with one another and be able to have that shoulder to lean on in your time of need, because here at AnaOno you are “Never Alone”.