Pros and Cons of Treatment
Treatment could be offered for varying reasons and the apparent advantages would differ in each individual. In case the treatment is being given with the objective of curing the cancer, the decision on whether to undergo the treatment might not be that tricky. But, when the cure is not achievable and the treatment is for controlling the cancer for a span of time then it could get knotty reaching a decision on whether or not to undergo the treatment.
In case one is undecided regarding the treatment when initially explicated, one could always request for additional time to make up one’s mind.
The choice not to undergo the treatment is an individual decision and the staff could elucidate what could imminently occur in case one does not want to get treated.
HIV and Treatment
Individuals having depleted immunity due to HIV along with having anal cancer might experience increased intensity of side effects during and subsequent to the treatment. As a consequence, the radiotherapy amounts and chemotherapy doses might be lowered.
Radiotherapy employs the use of high-power energy beams for obliterating cancer cells, while sparing most of the normal cells. The treatment is mostly administered for a certain span of minutes during every weekday lasting till four to six weeks.
During the course of the treatment phase, the patient would experience alterations in bowel functioning like diarrhoea or would pass wind often; though these side effects could at times be lowered by keeping away from some foods. As one approaches the concluding phase of the treatment, one could start getting blisters or tenderness in the skin around the anal area or also likely in groin parts. Intense weariness or exhaustion is additionally a prevalent side effect of undergoing radiotherapy treatment for anal cancer.
Such side effects generally subside in a gradual manner as the treatment concludes, though it might require few months for the skin to come back to its normal form. Some individuals experience a long-lasting change in their bowel movements. It is imperative to speak with one’s doctor or specialist nurse regarding this as mostly there are ways to allaying these problems. The doctor or dietician at the hospital could provide further guidance.
Other likely side effects that might arise subsequent to radiotherapy for anal cancer are vaginal constriction (vaginal stenosis) and dryness felt in the vagina. To aid in averting this, women would be advised on using vaginal dilators alongside jelly for lubrication purposes for keeping the vaginal walls open and maintain suppleness. Few women might also require using lubricating jelly at the time of sexual contact.
Infertility (inability to bear children) could be the consequence of undergoing radiotherapy. In case one is apprehensive about the chances of infertility subsequent to treatment, then it would be a better option to discuss this matter with the specialist prior to commencing the treatment.
Chemotherapy employs cancer-combatant (cytotoxic) drugs for annihilating cancer cells that are administered generally through intravenous injection.
Chemotherapy could transitorily lower the normal cell count in the blood. One could become more prone to infection when the white blood cell count depletes. When there is a plummet in red blood cell count, then a person could turn anemic leading to recurrent fatigue. A sapped platelet count could lead to easy bruising. The blood would be analysed on a regular basis during the course of chemotherapy treatment and antibiotics could be suggested for treating any kind of infection. Blood transfusion could be administered in case one gets anemia during the course of chemotherapy.
Other side effects experienced involve feeling nauseous and vomiting. Oral sores and ulcers could arise as side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs. Regular use of mouthwashes is vital and the nurse would illustrate on their optimal use.
In case one has no appetite for consuming meals, then nutritive beverages or soups could be employed as supplements in the diet. Wide-spanning choices of beverages are obtainable at many chemist shops. The doctor or dietician could be consulted regarding diet queries.
Surgery is chosen when the original treatment fails to totally eliminate the cancer or when there are symptoms of a relapse. There are two key forms of surgery:
This could be employed for small-sized tumours located outside the anus. This surgery solely involves the removal of the part of the anus that has the malignant growth. The anal sphincter is generally not affected, and hence there is normal bladder functioning retained in majority of the individuals.
This involves removing the anus and rectum. A permanent colostomy is requisite in this surgery wherein a diversion is made from the open end of the bowel onto the abdominal surface for allowing passage of the faeces outside of the body ending in a colostomy bag. The aperture on the wall of the abdomen is called a stoma. The perception about a colostomy could be firstly disquieting and upsetting for several individuals, though many get accustomed to it over a span of time and could go back to their normal functioning.