Tips on navigating breast cancer treatment
Understandably, there is likely to be mixed feelings when starting or undergoing cancer treatment.1,2If you are currently undergoing treatment, or about to start, you may be feeling a range of emotions such as;
- concerns over eventual treatment outcomes,
- how you’ll balance accessing the treatment/s you need whilst still maintaining your day-to-day life,
- even what the effects of these treatments may be on your quality of life.1,2
At GenesisCare, we have dedicated treatment teams to support each of our patients. It’s important to follow treatment team advice for each step, as early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can greatly improve outcomes and survivorship.3
It’s also very important to reach out to your care team if you any concerns around your breast cancer treatment.
Your safety and continued access to treatment are the top priorities for everyone at GenesisCare. Our teams take every possible precaution to try and ensure patients seeking treatment and staff are safe from other risks such as infectious diseases. Our risk control measures include increased frequency of cleaning rounds, strict hygiene protocols, limiting visitor numbers, screening of patients, staff and visitors on arrival, appropriate use of personal protective equipment and telehealth where appropriate.
Do you require surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other breast cancer treatment?
It’s important you continue your breast cancer treatment and keep up to date with your medical appointments (telehealth or face-to-face). If you need advice, or if you have any concerns about your treatment, speak with your doctor or a member of your treatment care team.
Does breast cancer treatment increase my risk of catching upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s)?
Your GenesisCare treatment team will tailor your breast cancer treatment according to your needs and will support you along the way. Personalised advice may be offered to you to help reduce your infection risk following treatment, such how to maintain appropriate hygiene, limiting contact with others, telehealth consultations and how to manage wounds post-surgery.
Some breast cancer treatments might weaken the immune system.4 So it is recommended to be extra vigilant in protecting yourself against infections like URTI’s i.e. such as good hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing a mask where possible.5-7
Some tips to help protect yourself from URTI infections during breast cancer treatment include;5-7
- Stay home as much as possible, working from home if you can
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser if soap is not immediately available).11
- Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly
- Wear a fitted face mask and maintain a 1.5m physical distance between others
- Remind your family and friends to stay away from you if they are unwell
- Avoid touching surfaces in public places (e.g. handrails, elevator buttons) and your face4,8
- Maintain a healthy diet, ensure you get adequate rest and exercise, and keep in touch with others through phone or video calls9
- You should also try to keep an adequate supply of your prescription and over the counter medications
- Ask for help to limit your contact with others (e.g. getting a family member or friend to shop for your groceries or medication)
- Discuss with your doctor if tele-health appointments are an option during treatment
If you start having URTI-like symptoms (e.g. cough, fever, shortness of breath or runny nose),8,10 it’s important to speak with your GP and inform your treatment team as soon as possible.
If you are concerned or unsure about anything to do with your breast cancer treatment plan, talk to your GenesisCare doctor and/or treatment team as soon as possible.
For support and advice regarding concerns you may have about your planned breast cancer treatment, contact the BCNA Helpline (1800 500 258) or McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurse Telephone Support Line (1800 183 338)
Your wellbeing is important to us, so here is a resource that could be helpful for you: Life in Mind Australia.
Worried about face-to-face appointments?
Telehealth consultations are available. Find out more here.
Any medical procedure or treatment involving the use of radiation carries risks, including skin irritation and associated pain. Before proceeding with treatment, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the treatment with an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.
Please note: The links below are outside of GenesisCare who cannot accept responsibility for the content.
- Cancer Council Australia [website]. Emotions and Cancer. Last updated Nov. 2021 [cited Sept. 2023]. Access: https://www.cancer.org.au
- Conley, CC et al. Healthcare (Basel). 2016; 4(3): 56
- Ginsburg, O et al. Cancer. 2020; 126(Suppl 10): 2379–393.
- Cancer Council Australia [website]. Lowered Immunity. Last updated July, 2022 [cited Sept. 2023]. Access: https://www.cancer.org.au
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When and how to wash your hands. Page last updated Nov 2022 [Cited June 2023]. Access from: https://www.cdc.gov
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others. Last updated November 29, 2021 [Cited Aug 2022]. Access from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.htm
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Types of Masks and Respirators. Last updated May, 2023 [Cited Sept. 2023]. Access from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.
- Peppas DE. Prin. & Prac. of Ped. Infec. Dis. 2018: 199–202.e1
- Cancer Council Australia [website]. Exercise for people living with cancer. Last updated March 2019 [cited Sept. 2023]. Access: https://www.cancer.org.au
- Eccles R. Lancet Infect Dis 2005; 5: 718–25
- Jing J. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2020; 17: 3326