After malignant tumors are treated by surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, there is a long period of time in the recovery period. Treatment is very important, but later recovery is also a very important process. The most concerning issues for patients in the rehabilitation period are “how to get through the rehabilitation period safely and prevent the cancer from recurring”; “how to arrange diet”; “how to perform rehabilitation exercises”, “how to maintain peace of mind” and so on. So what should we do to get through the recovery period smoothly?
At 20:00 in the evening on August 17, in the public welfare live broadcast of the Fujian News Broadcast themed “Sharing Doctors” engaged by GanoHerb’s special arrangement, we invited Ke Chunlin, the deputy chief physician of the Oncology Radiotherapy Department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, to be a guest in the live broadcast room, bringing for the majority of cancer friends a lecture on the topic of “Rehabilitation after Tumor Treatment” to popularize the in-depth knowledge of the tumor rehabilitation period and to eliminate cognitive misunderstandings.
How do tumors generate? How to prevent them?
Director Ke mentioned in the live broadcast that only 10% of tumors are related to gene mutations, another 20% of tumors are related to air pollution and table pollution, and the remaining 70% are closely related to our bad living habits such as imbalanced diet, dietary bias, staying up late, alcoholism, lack of exercise, emotional depression and anxiety. They may lead to decreased immunity, which leads to genetic mutations in the body and eventually forms tumors. Therefore, the most effective way to prevent tumors is to maintain a good lifestyle, maintain balanced and healthy eating habits, strengthen exercise and maintain a good mindset.
Successful surgery does not mean the end of tumor treatment.
Comprehensive treatment of tumors mainly includes surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. After systemic treatment, tumor treatment does not end. Usually, after treatment, most tumor cells are killed, but a small part of tumor cells may still hide in small blood vessels or lymphatic vessels, hidden tissues in the body (liver, etc.). At this time, it is necessary to use the body’s immunity to kill the remaining “injured cancer soldiers”. If your own immunity is not enough to kill these remaining tumor cells, the tumor cells may come back and cause greater damage later, that is, recurrence and metastasis.
With the advancement of science and treatment methods, malignant tumors are gradually becoming curable diseases. For example, 90% of patients with breast cancer has a five-year survival period. Even for advanced lung cancer, which was once difficult to treat, the chance of a five-year survival period is gradually rising. So now, cancer is not called “incurable disease”, but called chronic disease. Chronic disease can be treated with chronic disease management methods just like hypertension and diabetes management. “In addition to systemic treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy in hospitals, other rehabilitation management is very important. For example, hypertension and diabetes are also chronic diseases. When there are complications, go to the hospital for treatment. After leaving the hospital, follow-up maintenance work should be done at home. The most important part of this maintenance is to raise the immunity to a certain level, so that cancer cells will naturally be eliminated by our immune cells .” Director Ke explained in the live broadcast.
How to improve immunity during rehabilitation?
In 2020, after the fight against the epidemic, many people have a new understanding of immunity and become aware of the importance of immunity. How can we improve immunity?
Director Ke said, “The ways to improve immunity are multi-directional. What attacks cancer cells is the immunity, which mainly refers to the lymphocytes in the body. To improve the functions and capabilities of these immune cells, we need to make efforts from all sides.”
Some patients may need to take some immune-enhancing drugs.
Cancer patients should eat more high-protein foods. In addition, vitamins and micro-elements are also essential.
Doing more exercise rehabilitation can also improve immunity. Exercise can produce dopamine, which can also soothe our emotions.
4. Adjust emotions
Maintaining mental balance can relieve anxiety and increase immunity. For cancer patients, bad mood may accelerate tumor recurrence. Learn to listen to light music, drink some water, close your eyes when you are upset, and let yourself slowly relax. Doing more good deeds can also improve your mentality. If none of these can ease your emotions, you can seek professional psychological counseling.
What about malnutrition during recovery?
Director Ke said, “There are many reasons for malnutrition after tumor treatment such as weight loss after surgery, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, oral ulcers, difficulty swallowing and stomach burning sensation. These symptoms can lead to malnutrition in patients. This requires targeted treatment. For example, if the symptoms of nausea and vomiting are obvious, it is necessary to eat a relatively light diet, avoid eating greasy food, and have more meals a day but less food at each. Drink some nutritious soup before meals. You can also do some exercise and start eating. If the symptoms of nausea and vomiting are obvious, you should seek medical intervention from a doctor.”
In the treatment of malnutrition, dietary and oral nutrients are the first choice. At the same time, reduce the intake of sugar, eat less spicy, greasy and fried foods, and appropriately increase the intake of high protein, fat and grains.
A high-protein diet includes fish, eggs and meat. Here, Director Ke particularly emphasized, “Taking this meat means eating more poultry (chicken or duck) and less red meat (beef, lamb or pork).”
If it is severe malnutrition, it is necessary to consult a clinician. It is best to conduct professional malnutrition screening and assessment, and the clinician and nutritionist will jointly make relevant nutrition adjustment plans.
Cognitive misunderstandings during rehabilitation
1. Excessive caution
Director Ke said, ”Some patients will be overly careful during the recovery period. They dare not eat many kinds of food. If they can’t maintain sufficient nutrition, their immune system can’t keep up. In fact, they needn’t be hypercritical about food.”
During the recovery period, some patients dare not exercise at all except to lie still from morning till night, fearing that exercise will aggravate fatigue. Director Ke said, “This view is wrong. Exercise is still needed during recovery. Exercise can improve our cardiopulmonary function and improve our mood. And scientific exercise can reduce the risk of tumor recurrence, improve survival rate and completion rate of treatment. I strongly encourage cancer patients to keep exercise while ensuring safety and to adjust exercise intensity step by step. If the conditions allow, you can ask exercise experts and clinicians to work out an exercise plan for you; if there are no such conditions, you can maintain a low-to-medium intensity exercise at home, such as walking briskly for half an hour to the extent of sweating slightly. If the body is weaker, you need to make corresponding exercise adjustments.”Walking is also a very suitable exercise for cancer patients. Taking a walk and sunbathing every day is good for health.
Question 1: Can I drink milk during chemotherapy?
Director Ke answers: As long as there is no lactose intolerance, you can drink it. Dairy products are a good source of protein. If you have lactose intolerance, drinking pure milk will cause diarrhea, you can choose yogurt.
Question 2: I have a lot of lipomas in my body. Some of them are big or small. And some are slightly painful. How to treat?
Director Ke’s answer: We should consider how long the lipoma has grown and where it is located. If there is any physical dysfunction, even a benign lipoma can be surgically removed. As for why the lipoma grows, this is related to the individual physical fitness. In terms of diet, it is necessary to have a balanced diet, which is mainly to eat more fruits and vegetables, maintain moderate-intensity exercise for more than half an hour, and eat less greasy and spicy things.
Question 3: The physical examination found that the thyroid nodules were of grade 3, 2.2 cm, and the thyroid function was normal. There was a relatively large one that could be touched but did not affect the appearance.
Director Ke’s answer: The degree of malignancy is not high. It is recommended to adopt observation methods. If there is a change after three years, consider a puncture to identify whether it is benign or malignant. If it is a benign thyroid tumor, surgery is not actually required. Review in three months to six months with regular follow-up.
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