Managing Symptom Distress

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What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

What are the symptoms of breast cancer? (2020, September 14). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Understanding the symptoms of breast cancer may be a warning sign to help save one’s life. It is crucial to understand that people experience different symptoms of breast cancer. At the same time, some do not have symptoms at all. As such, the CDC provides examples of possible signs and symptoms. Furthermore, providing resources in addition to other essential information on breast cancer.
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Managing Symptoms & Side Effects for Breast Cancer

Symptom management. (n.d.). BC Cancer.

The BC Cancer website provides a hyperlink format that provides the most common symptoms a patient with breast cancer would experience. Each sign has a clickable link that offers extensive detail with detailed pictures and properly managing one side effect of breast cancer. This section discusses managing symptoms and side effects, pain and symptom management clinics and radiation therapy side effects and resources.
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Check Your Symptoms

BC Cancer – Problems with Balance and Coordination

This page of the BC Cancer website discusses problems with balance and coordination related to cancer. Your health care provider can assist you in determining the cause of your balance and coordination issues and find ways to improve or manage them. In order to prevent, manage, or improve your problems with balance and coordination, the websites provide some guidance on actions you can take.
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American Cancer Society – Balance Problems and Falls

The website provides a thorough explanation of balancing problems that can contribute to falls. They go on to explain the causes of falls and unsteadiness and what steps your health care provider might take to support you. The website also explains specific causes of balance problems about cancer and cancer treatment. This allows the patient and their support system to understand their role in managing balance problems and preventing falls.
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BreastCancer.Org

The webpage aims to support and provide information to people with breast cancer experiencing dizziness. First, the webpage explains what dizziness is along with some common causes. The site then lists several breast cancer treatments that can cause dizziness. The medications listed are hyperlinked to additional information about the medication. How to manage dizziness is then explored with handy tips. The website states that dizziness caused by medication used to treat breast cancer usually goes away on its own. If it does not, it states that you should contact your doctor for support and guidance.
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Balance and coordination for breast cancer

A handout on balance and coordination and treatment is provided.
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Self-image and sexuality in breast cancer

Body image, sexuality, and intimacy after breast cancer. (n.d.). American Cancer Society, Information and Resources about Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin.
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Information on learning to be comfortable with your body during and after breast cancer treatment. In addition to the emotional stress that cancer and treatment can cause, many women with breast cancer also experience changes in appearance following their treatment. Patients are encouraged to speak to their doctor, or other members of your health care team is often a good starting point.

Lee, S. (n.d.). Coping with body image and self-esteem worries. Canadian Cancer Society.
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The Canadian Cancer Society carefully defines both body image and self-esteem. The site elaborates on being patient with yourself and signs that you may need help coping, additionally, giving critical examples of how one self-image and even sexuality can be affected and how to avoid a loss in self-esteem.

BreastCancer.Org – Breathing Problems

This web page can help you understand, manage, and prevent shortness of breath associated with breast cancer and its treatments. First, the site explains the discomfort related to feeling short of breath and some common causes. It goes over breast cancer treatments and medications that can contribute to shortness of breath with hyperlinks to additional medication information. The site provides guidance on managing difficulties breathing, such as pursed-lip breathing, paced breathing, and positioning.
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Managing Shortness of Breath, Juravinski Cancer Centre Patient Education, Hamilton Health Sciences

This YouTube video is created to show different breathing techniques to manage shortness of breath. The video guides how to perform the breathing techniques and explains how they can benefit. The video is easy to follow and includes a visual and verbal walk-through of the techniques.

American Cancer Society – Shortness of Breath

The website provides a thorough explanation of what shortness of breath is. It details what can cause shortness of breath about cancer, cancer treatment, and other health challenges. The site explores what symptoms you would experience. This allows the patient and their support system to understand their shortness of breath management and prevention role.
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Breathlessness/ Shortness of breath in breast cancer

A handout on relaxed positions in breathlessness.
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BreastCancer.Org – Constipation

The site explores constipation when undergoing breast cancer treatment. The site explains what constipation is, what causes it, and how breast cancer and breast cancer treatment can be associated with constipation. The site also explores how constipation can be managed. Specific breast cancer treatment medications that cause constipation are provided with hyperlinks to additional medication information.
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National Cancer Institute – Constipation: Cancer Treatment Side Effects

This webpage explores constipation as a side effect of cancer treatment. It defines constipation and then explores some of the causes of constipation. The webpage then provides simple methods to manage and prevent constipation and includes tips such as eating a high-fibre diet, staying hydrated, and being active.
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American Cancer Society – Constipation

The website provides a thorough explanation of what constipation is. It details what can cause constipation, cancer treatment, and other health challenges. The site explores what to look for in terms of diarrhea, such as what symptoms you would experience. This allows the patient and their support system to understand their constipation management and prevention role.
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Constipation in breast cancer

A handout on how to treat constipation caused by your medications.
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National Cancer Institute – Communication in Cancer Care

The National Cancer Institute’s web page explains the importance of good communication when undergoing cancer care and guides how this can be achieved. The page explains the critical role of family and caregivers in communication. Additionally, it provides tips on how to best communicate with your health care team and the role of family caregivers.
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BreastCancer.Org – Communication with Healthcare Providers

The web page explores how communication can be difficult and anxiety-inducing when undergoing cancer treatment. They stress that getting all your questions and concerns into words can be challenging, leaving you feeling alone and unsupported. They offer guidance and strategies to help you talk with members of your health care team. They state that if the strategies they offer do not assist in resolving the communication problems, it is okay to seek out a new doctor who better supports your needs.
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Communication difficulties for breast cancer

Communicating is a complex process of the brain and may impact a patients’ ability to communicate. This webpage resources for communication difficulties with cancer.
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American Cancer Society – Diarrhea

The website provides a thorough explanation of what diarrhea is. It details what can cause diarrhea, cancer treatment, and other health challenges. The site explores the risks associated with diarrhea and how they can be prevented. The site is divided into sections such as what the patient can do, what caregivers can do, and when additional supports should be sought. This allows the patient and their support system to understand their diarrhea management and prevention role.
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National Cancer Institute – Diarrhea: Cancer Treatment Side Effects

This webpage explores diarrhea as a side effect of cancer treatment. It defines diarrhea and then explores some of the causes of diarrhea. The webpage then provides information regarding the possible dangers of diarrhea and when a health professional should be contacted. Simple methods to manage diarrhea are then provided and include handy tips. Lastly, the webpage provides questions that you can ask to guide your diarrhea-related health care appointment.
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Diarrhea in breast cancer

This webpage provides a handout on diarrhea in a few languages.
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BreastCancer.Org – Dry Mouth

The webpage explains the difficulties that dry mouth can cause, such as difficulty swallowing, speaking, and chewing. Then it explains some of the causes of dry mouth, including chemotherapy agents, pain medication, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Tips for managing dry mouth are then provided. The webpage encourages you to speak to your doctor for support if you have difficulty managing it yourself. The webpage explains the importance of managing dry mouth as it can increase your risk of developing infections in the mouth.
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BC Cancer – Dry Mouth and Mouth Pain

This page on the BC Cancer website explores dry mouth and mouth pain and offers information on managing and treating it. First, dry mouth is described, and common causes of dry mouth related to cancer and cancer treatment are provided. The page provides information regarding temporary or permanent dry mouth and mouth pain and explains when to contact your health care team. Lastly, the webpage provides links to additional resources.
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How to Care for Your Mouth During Active Chemotherapy fact sheet by the International Society of Oral Oncology

The International Society of Oral Oncology has created multilingual fact sheets regarding mouth care during active chemotherapy. The fact sheet is available in over 20 languages to support individuals from diverse backgrounds. First, it explains what active chemotherapy is. It then guides in terms of eating/drinking, swallowing, and oral hygiene to care for your mouth during active chemotherapy. The sheet also guides when the health care team should be contacted. The information is available in a video format
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Dry mouth and mouth pain for breast cancer

A handout regarding dry mouth and mouth pain is provided.
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Being active: Use exercise to improve energy levels

Lee, S. (n.d.). Being active. Canadian Cancer Society.

Provides tips to be more active in an easy-to-read list format. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of starting slow and picking an activity they will enjoy in hopes of not turning patients away from being active if they are not previously active before diagnosis. In addition, it explains the importance of having the patient’s healthcare team involved to help choose the suitable regime that fits with their plan of care.
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The website described fatigue, causes, tips for managing fatigue and further support.

Fatigue: A side effect of treatment. (2020, December 18). Breastcancer.org.

Explains the possible reasons why a patient with breast cancer would be experiencing fatigue while including all the potential factors. Furthermore, the second site provides a look into the medical aspect of why a patient is experiencing fatigue, such as the list of medications they can be on and explaining possible techniques to avoid worsening one’s fatigue. All laid out in an easy-to-read list format.
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Webinar: Overcoming fatigue. (2021, July 27). Cancer Council NSW.

This website provides an in-depth, hour-long webinar on overcoming fatigue. The webinar discusses ways someone going through breast cancer can manage their fatigue and return their energy level. While also exploring some valuable services that can support through these challenging times.
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A handout on managing fatigue (tiredness).
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Cancer fatigue

This webpage consists of an overview of fatigue, causes, tests, management, treatment, living with fatigue, and how to conserve energy in cancer fatigue.
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Fever, infection, and side effects while on chemotherapy for breast cancer

Fever: A side effect of treatment. (2020, December 18). Breastcancer.org.

Discusses tips and tricks to manage one’s fever and symptoms that are signalling signs of infection are rising. Additionally, the site lists some breast cancer treatments that can cause fever and the over-the-counter medication that can reduce fever and psychological pain.
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Breast Cancer Now: The Research and Care Charity – Hair loss and appearance for breast cancer

The webpage by Breast Cancer Now provides information and guidance to those facing hair loss related to breast cancer. First, the page explains how to prepare yourself for losing your hair. The page then explains how long it takes for hair loss to begin once treatment has started. It touches on some emotions you may experience and then describes how to care for your scalp after hair loss. The site guides coping with other people’s reactions to your hair loss and provides links and resources to additional information and supports.
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Look Good Feel Better

Look Good Feel Better is a charitable program dedicated to helping women manage the effects cancer and its treatment has on their appearance. At the heart of the Foundation is a two-hour training workshop delivered both in-person and virtually by a team of professionals who give tips on how to mask the effects of treatment, from an evening out skin tone to recreating lost eyebrows. A woman diagnosed with cancer may not only lose her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows – she may lose her sense of self and her womanhood.
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Canadian Cancer Society – Hair Loss

This web page will find information regarding hair loss when undergoing cancer treatment. The website explains what causes hair loss in chemotherapy medications and other treatments. The web page explains how hair loss can potentially be prevented through scalp cooling technology and offers guidance on managing hair loss.
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Hair loss and appearance for breast cancer

This page provides resources on cooling caps, hair loss and appearance changes.
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Breast cancer: Lymphedema after treatment.

(n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine, based in Baltimore, Maryland.

This chronic condition is a problem that occurs when lymph nodes are removed after cancer surgery. This webpage explains lymphedema and provides a brief overview of the lymphatic system. It then explains how lymphedema happens and what types of lymphedemas exist. Prevention of lymphedema is discussed and what symptoms to look out for. Lymphedema Diagnosis and treatment are then explored. The website states that it is essential to work with your health care team to prevent, manage, and treat lymphedema. They also guide how to prevent infection and injury best when you have lymphedema.
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Canadian Cancer Society – Lymphedema

This webpage by the Canadian Cancer Society starts by explaining was lymphedema is. It includes diagrams and visual representations to ease understanding. The webpage then explores causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevention and management of lymphedema. The page explains the importance of skincare with lymphedema and explores how the skin should be adequately cared for. This website aims to educate on the numerous lymphedema prevention, maintenance, and treatment methods.
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Yoga for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema – American Institute for Cancer Research

This YouTube video by the American Institute for Cancer Research aims to help guide you through a yoga session for breast cancer-related lymphedema. This video demonstrates a short yoga practice that includes gentle breathing, mindfulness and movements to support the lymphatic system.

Lymphedema for breast cancer

A handout on managing lymphedema (swelling) in the arm or leg.
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BC Cancer – Memory and Attention

Side effects from cancer and chemotherapy (chemo) can include problems with memory and attention. In contrast, we may not know all of the reasons why; we know that problems with thinking exist and that they can change a person’s ability to do tasks at work, school, and home. This handout provides facts about the mixed effects of chemo, stress and worry, and lists ways to help you cope with these changes.
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Canadian Cancer Society – Cognitive Problems

This Canadian Cancer Society web page explains what cognitive problems can entail and how they are related to cancer and cancer treatment. It explains causes such as cancer treatments, conditions related to cancer, medicines, and other factors. It then discusses symptoms of cognitive problems, diagnosis of cognitive problems, management of cognitive problems, and coping strategies. They list numerous tools that can be beneficial and take care of yourself.
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Pain management in breast cancer

Treatments for pain. (2020, May 8). Breastcancer.org.

There are many pain remedies for patients going through breast cancer. Often, there will be a struggle within some patients who are not as comfortable taking medications for pain relief and want to look for more holistic options. This website provides in-depth detail on pharmacological pain remedies and lifestyle adjustments to aid in pain relief, such as managing the psychological effects of pain.
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Managing cancer pain at home. (n.d.). American Cancer Society. Information and Resources about Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin.

The American Cancer Society provides a resource that goes into depth on managing cancer pain at home for patients. This site discusses what to look for with pain, what cancer patients can do if they have pain, how caregivers can contribute, and further steps if the pain worsens.
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Pain management for cancer

This website provides a handout on pain from cancer, treatment, and resources.
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Cancer: controlling cancer pain

This page talks about how to control pain caused by cancer.
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Neutropenia (low white blood cells) for breast cancer

BC Cancer – Neutropenia (low white blood cells).

This webpage explains what neutropenia is and why having white blood cells is essential. It discusses what causes neutropenia, neutropenic fever, how to treat neutropenic fever, how to do teat neutropenia, steps you can take to manage neutropenia, and provides guidance on learning to learn more. The information is also available in English, Punjabi, and Traditional Chinese.
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American Cancer Society – Low White Blood Cell Counts (Neutropenia)

This webpage explains what neutropenia is and briefly explains the roles of different white blood cells in our body. The causes and risks of neutropenia are explored along with symptoms and treatment. The webpage also touches on why neutropenia is problematic by explaining the problems that neutropenia may cause.
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BreastCancer.Org – low white blood cell

The webpage aims to support and provide information to people with breast cancer experiencing low white blood cell count. First, the web page explains what white blood cells are and some common causes of low white blood cell count during cancer treatment. The site lists numerous breast cancer treatments and medications that can cause a low white blood cell count. The medications listed are hyperlinked to additional information about the medications. How to manage a low white blood cell count is then explored. It states the importance of doing things such as avoiding large crowds, avoiding swimming in lakes, streams, and ponds, and washing your hands frequently.
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Pain management in breast cancer

Treatments for pain. (2020, May 8). Breastcancer.org.

There are many pain remedies for patients going through breast cancer. Often, there will be a struggle within some patients who are not as comfortable taking medications for pain relief and want to look for more holistic options. This website provides in-depth detail on pharmacological pain remedies and lifestyle adjustments to aid in pain relief, such as managing the psychological effects of pain.
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Managing Cancer Pain at Home

(n.d.). American Cancer Society. Information and Resources about Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin.

The American Cancer Society provides a resource that goes into depth on managing cancer pain at home for patients. This site discusses what to look for with pain, what cancer patients can do if they have pain, how caregivers can contribute, and further steps if the pain worsens.
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Pain management for cancer

This website provides a handout on pain from cancer, treatment, and resources.
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Cancer: controlling cancer pain

This page talks about how to control pain caused by cancer.
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BreastCancer.Org – Neuropathy

The webpage aims to support and provide information to people with breast cancer experiencing neuropathy. First, the web page explains neuropathy and some common causes of neuropathy during cancer treatment. The site lists numerous breast cancer treatments and medications that can cause neuropathy. The medications listed are hyperlinked to additional information about the medications. The webpage then explores neuropathy symptoms and provides tips that may help manage the effects of neuropathy.
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American Cancer Society – Getting Help for Peripheral Neuropathy

This handout by the American Cancer Society explains what peripheral neuropathy is and the potential causes of neuropathy in people with cancer. The handout provides tips on managing neuropathy and explores treatments that you could discuss with your health care team.
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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre – video presentation- Neuropathy Care for Cancer Survivors

This video presentation by the Memorial Sloan Kettering experts describes peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy and offers tips for managing symptoms. The experts explain what chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is and why it may develop in the presentation. They then describe the signs and symptoms of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and how it may affect your function. After, they discuss what your health care team may look for in an examination of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Lastly, they explain a variety of treatment interventions that may be beneficial for individuals with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
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University Health Network, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, 2019 – Breast Cancer: Your Emotions, Body Image, and Sexual Health

This 22-page booklet aims to assist you with your emotions, body image, and sexual health during and after breast cancer. They discuss essential concepts such as coping after having a mastectomy and considering whether breast reconstruction is correct for you. The booklet is presented in an organized manner and is easy to understand. They guide boosting sex drive, increasing sexual pleasure, and how different cancer treatments can affect your sexual functioning and pleasure.
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National Cancer Institute – Sexual Health Issues in Women with Cancer

This webpage explains how cancer and cancer treatment can occur after your sexual life before, during, and after cancer treatment. The website explains what specific treatments can affect your sexual life and why. They then discuss how to manage sexual health issues and list different ways your health care team can support you. Guiding questions are provided to assist you in discussing your sexual health concerns with your health care team.
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OncoLink – Women’s Guide to Sexuality During and After Cancer Treatment

This webpage by OncoLink goes over concerns you may be having, such as how your sex life can be influenced during and after cancer treatment and whether you can have sex during treatment. They provide tips for healthy and safe sexual activity and how you can cope with vaginal changes. Lastly, they talk about how you can get back started with sex after some time without sex, and they talk about sexuality and explore sexuality after cancer.
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A handout on sexual health and cancer.

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BreastCancer.Org – Insomnia (Trouble Sleeping)

This website explores insomnia concerning breast cancer. First, it explains what insomnia is. It then explains how breast cancer can result in insomnia by exploring breast cancer treatments that may contribute to sleeping problems. The medicines and treatments listed are hyperlinked to a page with additional medication information. Tips to manage insomnia are then explored. The website includes strategies such as avoiding napping, cutting down on caffeine, exercising during the day, and more.
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Sleep Foundation – Cancer and Sleep

Although this website is not specific to breast cancer, it outlines how cancer as a whole can affect sleep. The website outlines the importance of sleep for health and related cancer and sleep. It outlines sleep and cancer risk by exploring sleep quality, sleep duration, circadian rhythm, and obstructive sleep apnea. The website then explores sleep and cancer progression and sleep and cancer treatment. Lastly, the website answers questions about cancer and sleep and explores how sleep can be improved while coping with cancer. The website even explores sleep related to cancer caregivers.
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OncoLink – Sleep Problems (Insomnia) in the Cancer Patient

The website outlines what insomnia is and includes common signs and symptoms. Treatments for insomnia are then explored. A table outlining pharmacological treatments (medications) is provided. The site then explores some herbal products and non-pharmacological treatments.
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Brain strength and sleep strategies

Managing fatigue or weakness. (n.d.). American Cancer Society. Information and Resources about Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin.

Fatigue hits everyone differently, especially breast cancer patients; with that in mind, the American Cancer Society provides evidence-based ideas regarding dealing with constant fatigue. As such, the site offers a list format on possible ways to manage fatigue or weakness with follow-up resources available.
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Getting a good night’s sleep after breast cancer treatment

Getting a good night’s sleep with breast cancer. (n.d.). Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

Sleep is an essential part of healing, especially during chemotherapy. The Breast Cancer Foundation explains how sleep helps maintain mental and physical well-being, improve one’s quality of life, strengthen one’s immune system, and, most importantly, repair cells. With that in mind, The Breast Cancer Foundation discusses three key steps to aid in getting a good night’s rest.
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Information to help understand the importance of sleep-in cancer care.

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BC Cancer – Swallowing Difficulties (Dysphagia)

This website explains what dysphagia is and overviews some signs and symptoms of swallowing problems. It then explains what causes swallowing difficulties in patients with cancer. It provides a screening tool that can assess if you need assistance from your health care team. Additionally, the website provides some guidance on what you can do if you are experiencing swallowing difficulties.
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American Cancer Society – Swallowing Problems

This website by the American Cancer Society overviews what can cause swallowing problems to cancer and its treatment. It provides a list of things to look out for, such as gagging and coughing when trying to swallow, little or no saliva, pain in the throat or mid-chest when swallowing and more. The website then provides an extensive list of strategies that you can try to reduce your swallowing problems. It also explores how caregivers can help and when to contact your health care team for more assistance.
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BreastCancer.Org – Swallowing Problems

This website by BreastCancer.Org explores swallowing difficulties concerning breast cancer. It explains why swallowing difficulties can occur and what breast cancer-related medicines and treatments can affect your swallowing ability. The website then provides tips to manage swallowing problems.
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Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) in breast cancer

This page discusses what to do for swallowing difficulties.
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Cancer.Net – Urinary Incontinence

This website by Cancer.Net explores urinary incontinence related to cancer. It explains different types of bladder control problems and causes of incontinence related to cancer and cancer treatment. It then discusses how urinary incontinence is diagnosed and how it can be treated. The website then explores ways that incontinence can be managed at home and provides guiding questions to ask your health care team.
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Canadian Cancer Society

This website by the Canadian Cancer Society explores urinary incontinence with cancer. First, it describes what urinary incontinence is and the negative consequences. The website then explores the causes of urinary incontinence, including certain cancers and cancer treatments. Types of urinary incontinence are then outlined. The website then explores how urinary incontinence is diagnosed and how it can be managed through medicines, medical devices, or surgeries.
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Byram Healthcare – The Urologic Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment

This website explores bladder problems related to breast cancer specifically. First, the website outlines breast cancer and some common signs and symptoms. It then discusses breast cancer treatment options. The website then explores how breast cancer treatment can be associated with urinary problems. They explain the roles of hormones, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy in urinary incontinence. Lastly, it discusses eliminating or managing urinary problems with links to additional resources.
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Urinary incontinence in breast cancer

A handout on urinary incontinence.
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Interdisciplinary Approaches to Psychosocial Oncology
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