Managing side effects

Nathalie Oudar
07/24/2017
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Patients may experience unpleasant and unwanted side effects during and/or immediately following their cancer treatments. These side effects include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and hot flashes. The medical or care team often has solutions to prevent or even treat them.
Effets secondaires traitements cancer

During treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy, consultations with your referring physician and the day hospital teams are scheduled to address unwanted side effects and give advice and recommendations.

  • Appropriate personal hygiene (gentle or neutral lotion, shampoo and soap, gentle drying, nail polish, dental hygiene, etc.) helps mitigate certain consequences of treatments on the skin or mucous membranes. Some medications may also help. The medical and care team advises each patient according to the treatment, using information sheets, educational workshops and mobile applications.
  • Nutritional advice to promote suitable dietary habits is given by the referring physician via a nutrition consultation or using dedicated tools.
  • Pain, anxiety and even depression must be diagnosed, assessed and treated. They may lead to sleep and/or eating problems. Do not hesitate to discuss your situation with your medical and care team. Medical support may be offered.

Dedicated consultations at Institut Curie

  • A cancer fertility consultation is offered to each female patient of child-bearing age at Institut Curie (Paris and Saint-Cloud) who has been diagnosed with cancer:
    • It helps to anticipate side effects on fertility and, depending on the case, preserve fertility for a later pregnancy (including ovarian stimulation, embryo freezing, removal and freezing of ovocytes and ovarian tissue).
    • Birth control is discussed for the treatment period, since the treatment would be harmful to a fetus.
  • A pain consultation is offered by the Supportive Care department (Paris and Saint-Cloud) for patients with poorly controlled pain.
  • A psycho-oncology consultation is offered (Paris and Saint-Cloud) for patients requesting it, or on recommendation from the care team.
  • An oral chemotherapy follow-up nursing consultation is offered (in Paris) to patients receiving oral cancer treatments; they are given practical information in conjunction with their referring physician. Some are referred to the dedicated therapeutic education program (see below).
  • A nutrition consultation is given by dietician-nutritionists (Paris and Saint-Cloud) to offer a nutritional assessment, and, for example, advice in the event of malnutrition or weight loss or gain.

Tools for prevention and action

  • A therapeutic education program, Managing the Disease on a Daily Basis, developed at Institut Curie (Paris) and authorized by the French regional health agency (agence régionale de santé) in 2013, is aimed at patients on oral anti-cancer treatments that they take at home. In the form of workshops, this program helps them to gain knowledge and know-how (for example, if they have missed a dose) so that they are able to deal with potential difficulties, such as whom to contact if they experience unexpected side effects, and to incorporate this treatment into their daily lives.
  • The myCurie mobile application has been offered to patients by Institut Curie since 2016. This mobile application is accessible from any device and provides practical, tailored information. It also has a section on possible side effects. Patients can find out about the potential effects of their treatments and advice to combat these effects, and they can supplement their medical record by entering data on their state of health.
  • Socio-esthetic care is offered free-of-charge by estheticians in beauty salons (in Paris and Saint-Cloud) and in day hospitals. Professionals also offer free workshops (Maison des patients et des proches - patient center, meeting and information center). Facial treatments, hand treatments and make-up help to restore the patient’s body image, which may have been altered by treatment (skin dryness, damaged nails, etc.).

Applied research and clinical trials

  • The Appli Chimio application, tested in a clinical study of 400 patients from institutions in the Paris region, is a remote home-monitoring service for patients undergoing chemotherapy or targeted therapy, led by Institut Curie at the request of the regional health agency for the Paris region. Depending on the symptoms declared by the patient on the application, accessible from any device, alerts are triggered according to their number, severity, frequency, duration and interference with daily life, and sent to the oncology department.
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