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Tell Your Healthcare Team How You Feel During Treatment for Oral Cancer

Treating your cancer to get the best results is important. But your quality of life also matters. Let your doctor and nurse know if you are experiencing any side effects or discomfort. Make sure you tell your doctor or nurse how these problems affect your day-to-day life. Your healthcare team is there to help you manage your symptoms as well as to treat your cancer.

It’s normal to worry about any problems you may be having. You may ask yourself, “Is the cancer getting worse? Are the treatments working?” Talk with your doctor and nurse about your concerns. You also need to let them know as much about the problem as possible. Keep a record of the following information and bring it to your appointments:

What the problem is. Describe the problem (diarrhea, depression, appetite loss) that you’re concerned about. Be as specific as possible. Include what it feels like. For example, if you have discomfort somewhere, is it itchy, achy, or burning?

Where the problem is. Is there a specific area that is affected, such as your stomach or your head? Be as specific as possible.

When it started. How long have you had the problem? Did you first notice the problem before or after a treatment session? Did you have it before you started treatment? Is it a constant problem? Is it worse or better at certain times? Does it come and go?

How bad it is. If you had to rank the problem on a scale from 0 to 10 (0=not bad, 10= worst), where would it rank?

Triggers that make the problem better or worse. Are there certain activities or environments that affect your symptoms?

How the problem affects your day-to-day life. Have you had to stop any activities because of the problem? Has your life changed because of the problem?

What you’re currently doing to manage the symptoms. Is it helping? Be sure to share any complementary or alternative therapies you may be trying at home.

It may help you to keep a chart of your symptoms. Your chart might look something like this:

Sample: Symptoms and Side Effects Tracking Chart

Date

Symptom

Intensity Rating

(0-10)

Management

(What did you do? Did it work?)

Jan. 3

Pain

4

Tried to watch a funny video, but couldn’t pay attention. Put a cool wet towel on my forehead and lay down in a dark room. After a nap, felt better.