Coping With The Side Effects of Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

Metastatic breast cancer is stage 4 breast cancer. This means that by this stage, cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. While there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, your doctor will help you find a treatment that will help in slowing down the progression of the disease and help you maintain a better quality of life. Thanks to these treatments, people having stage 4 breast cancer is today able to live longer lives than ever before. However, these Metastatic breast cancer treatment have several side effects that are not only unpleasant but also diminish the quality of your life. This is why it is important to know how you will be coping with the side effects of metastatic breast cancer treatment. Let’s take a look at how you can cope better.

Coping With The Side Effects of Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment

Some of the common side effects one experiences during treatment of metastatic breast cancer include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased risk of contracting infections
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tingling or numbness

These side effects get better once the treatment finishes. However, while the treatment is going on, these side effects have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Here are certain ways in which you can cope better with the side effects of metastatic breast cancer treatment.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

One of the most important things to remember at this point is that you must increase your fiber intake. This is because, more often than not, Metastatic breast cancer treatment causes constipation. Sometimes constipation can get so bad that it becomes very difficult to pass hard stools. While bowel movements may not be your top concern at this moment, but understand that if you don’t pass stool for days, you will feel even more miserable, not to mention you will also feel bloated and may also experience stomach cramps.

Increasing your fiber intake from vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods, make your stool soft, relieving constipation which is one of the side effects of Metastatic breast cancer. You can also think about taking a fiber supplement.

Don’t Forget to Exercise

There is no doubt that Metastatic breast cancer treatment is tiring. Often times you feel so fatigued that exercising seems to be the last thing you would want to do.

However, by indulging in a certain level of physical activity every day, you will notice that you not only feel better, but you also have more energy levels. Even a simple walk around the block will do wonders for your health. You can also practice yoga or tai chi, or even use a stationary bike at home itself to help you cope better with the side effects of metastatic breast cancer treatment.

Have Smaller Meals

This does not mean that you cut down on the calories and nutrition you are getting. Having smaller meals means that you should have 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day. This is because not only does cancer treatment affect your appetite, but it may also cause mouth sores, which make it difficult to eat. When eating becomes a painful experience, we often tend to skip meals.

However, at this crucial stage where your body is undergoing treatment for Metastatic breast cancer, your body’s need for proper nutrition is at its highest. This is why eating smaller and more frequent meals that are rich in protein and nutrients is very important. Try to include foods such as milkshakes, granola bars, whole-milk yogurt, and peanut butter with some crackers to keep yourself full.

Increase your Fluid Intake

As mentioned above, Metastatic breast cancer treatment often causes constipation. Increasing your intake of fluids, especially water, will help soften your stools and make it easier to have a bowel movement.

Furthermore, if you are experiencing diarrhea, then drinking plenty of water will help prevent dehydration. Having a good fluid intake also provides relief from nausea which is one of the side effects of Metastatic breast cancer treatment.

Wear Loose Fitting Clothes

While undergoing Metastatic breast cancer treatment treatment, it is often common to experience menopause-like symptoms, particularly hot flashes. Hot flashes are one of the common side effects of breast cancer treatment. You can try taking estrogen to get relief from them, but hormone therapy is not recommended for women who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This is because hormone therapy increases the risk of recurrence of cancer.

Wearing loose-fitting clothes will help you remain cool without taking any medications. You can also opt for wearing loose clothes in some layers. This way, if you feel hot, you can always remove a layer.

Conserve your Energy

It is important that you conserve your energy whichever way possible. This is because radiation therapy and chemotherapy treat for Metastatic breast cancer leave you drained off your energy. Further, Metastatic breast cancer treatments kill the body’s healthy cells, making your body work overtime to manufacture new cells. Poor nutrition and disturbed sleep, common side effects of cancer treatment, also leave you feeling drained and fatigued.

This is why it is important for you to rest as much as possible and whenever possible. If you need to take naps during the day, do so. Don’t keep too many works lined up for one single day as it will leave you feeling tired out. Conserve all the energy you have left after undergoing the Metastatic breast cancer treatment.


Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is going to turn your world upside down. Nothing seems to make sense anymore. However, remember that you don’t need to go through this harrowing phase of your life alone. Take the help of your loved ones and your friends. You can also seek support from counselors and psychologists, who are trained to help people suffering from cancer. Do not let yourself fall into depression. This will make you feel even more exhausted and overwhelmed. Therefore, lean on your loved ones and actively seek support from your family and friends to get through this difficult stage in life.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 23, 2018

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