After surviving lymphoma allopathic (conventional) treatments, patients should be on the lookout for both short and late term effects. Some of these symptoms can occur years into a patient’s remission.This list is not exhaustive. This post is intended as a starting point that will give the reader a general idea of a few of the side effects from allopathic oncology for lymphomas.
The body can have a hard time recovering from chemotherapy and radiation, and anemia can be a result. The bone marrow may have trouble producing blood cells for a few years after treatment, and low red blood cell counts lead to anemia. This causes fatigue and dizziness.
Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)
This condition refers to bone death in or around the joints, which leads to deformation of the joints. It is most common in the shoulder and hip and can cause joint pain. Some patients walk with a limp or need joint replacements. Prednisone is the most likely cause of this condition, but chemotherapy, radiation, and tumor damage are other possibilities.
One place Hodgkin’s lymphoma can metastasize is bone marrow, and sometimes bone pain, a limp or a spontaneous fracture is the clue that Hodgkin’s has recurred. However, before the invasion is extensive, cancerous tissue displacing calcium in the bone will send this mineral into the blood. This increase in blood calcium, or hypercalcemia, causes subtle signs that are important for both Hodgkin’s survivors and their families to recognize. Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation, frequent urination, muscle weakness or aches are symptoms listed by MayoClinic.com as easy-to-spot signs of hypercalcemia. But lethargy and sadness can be mistaken for depression, and confusion can be written off as forgetfulness or distraction, when these are additional signs of hypercalcemia. It’s important to note these emotional symptoms, knowing that they could be warnings of bone involvement and recurrent disease. Early onset osteoporosis can happen in some patients.
Some chemotherapy drugs can leave a patient sterile. Radiation is another cause.
Radiation to the neck or strong doses of chemo can impair thyroid function. Since the thyroid controls metabolism and energy, patients with hypothyroidism are usually fatigued. Other symptoms include hair loss, cold intolerance, weight gain, night sweats, irritability, and memory loss. Conventional hormone therapy is usually given to address this problem.
This refers to tingling, numbness, or pain due to nerve damage, and usually occurs in the hands or feet. It is usually temporary and goes away on its own.
Respiratory distress and lung issues
The chemo drug Bleomycin is known to cause lung problems in a small amount of patients, so pulmonary function tests should be done yearly to ensure good lung health. Coughing and shortness of breath can be the result of tumors occurring along the lymph chain in the center of the chest, or from extension of the disease into the lung tissue. And even a slight decrease in the oxygen level due to early lung involvement can cause anxiety and panic attacks. Hodgkin’s survivors should inform their oncologists of any changes in their personalities, and receive physicals with oximetry and lung scans, based on these symptoms, to ensure early detection and treatment of recurrent disease.
Adriamycin is known to cause heart problems, such as arrhythmias, in a small percentage of patients. Echocardiograms or other cardiac tests are usually performed yearly to ensure good heart health.
Kidney and/or liver damage
Need to monitor the levels of certain hormones and vitamins to ensure that your kidneys and liver function properly. Since these two organs filter the chemotherapy from the blood, damage is possible.
Chemotherapy agents and radiation are known to cause secondary cancers. These include breast cancer, other types of lymphoma, and leukemia.
Some patients have temporary memory loss after chemotherapy treatments.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Some patients are stressed for long periods of time post-treatment.
When fever rises at night, the body is exhibiting a state of inflammation. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lymphatic tissue becomes inflamed in response to the invading cancer cells and because lymph fluid cannot flow through the inflamed tissue. This inflammation happens primarily during the night and the fever results. Many people sleep through night fevers, but can tell they occurred when their night clothes and sheets are damp the next morning.
Itching without a Rash (Pruritus)
Dry, itchy skin can occur for a number of reasons, but when it happens to someone with a history of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a visit to a competent oncologist is in order. The medical term for itching without a rash or irritation of the skin is pruritus without excoriation, and it is another signal of lymphatic inflammation, as well as being a sign of liver involvement.
Suppression of the immune system and infections
The most serious of chemotherapeutic effects, immunosuppression leaves the patient vulnerable to infect from sources that would not ordinarily threaten a healthy individual. Taking steps like washing hands may help alleviate this risk, but it is estimated that nearly 85 percent of infections arise from microorganisms that occur naturally on the skin or in the gastrointestinal tract. Infections may be localized, as with herpes simplex or shingles, or may be systemic (for example, sepsis).
Most chemo treatment regimens will cause thinning or outright hair loss. This is usual temporary and hair can begin to grow again a few weeks after treatment ceases, especially if it is combined with integrative oncology.
Cancer-related fatigue, the process of undergoing chemotherapy, can be physically and mentally exhausting for patients. In part this can be attributed to anemia. Conventional oncology will try to mitigate this with iron supplements, blood transfusions, and hormone therapy. However, integrative oncology has shown that iron supplementation and meat (also rich in iron) can promote metastases.
Tendency to bleed more easily
Fast-growing platelets in the blood are vulnerable to chemotherapy just as hair is, and may be seriously reduced. This leads to increased bleeding and bruising. Like immune suppression, extremely low platelet counts may require that therapy be suspended to allow the body to recover.
Because of the susceptibility of the stomach and intestinal lining to drugs that target fast-dividing cells, nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemotherapy. Along with constipation and diarrhea, this can lead to a patient not eating enough, which in turn leads to unwanted weight loss. Anti-emetic drugs are usually given by conventional oncologists.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph glands and organs that manufacture or process lymph fluid, and the painless swelling of a lymph node, called lymphadenopathy, can herald the recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and all the more so that different aspects of conventional oncology can be quite inflammatory.
In addition to these effects many conventional oncologists forget to detail, chemotherapy can also result in damage to the liver, the inner ear, the pancreas (leading to diabetes), the coagulation cascade and just about all and any other tissue. Such damage may or may not be reversible, and will carry its own set of symptoms.
All cancers, even the “liquid” ones, like leukemias and lymphomas, have recurrence risks. Because many conventional oncologists forget to inform the patient of this, it may be the patient’s best interest to know the key signs and symptoms that could signal a need for immediate medical attention and to better examine non invasive integrative and holistic oncology techniques and options. Ch. J.