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THE TREATMENT OF CANCER
Medical treatment of cancer can include surgical removal, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods. These treatments,unfortunately, have side effects that can further undermine the nutritional status of the client. Cancer surgery, however, can have some additional effects. Surgery on the mouth, for example, might well affect the ability to chew or swallow. Gastric or intestinal resection can affect absorption and result in nutritional deficiencies. The removal of the pancreas will result in diabetes mellitus.
Radiation of the head or neck can cause a decrease in salivary secre-tions, which causes dry mouth (xerostomia) and difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia). This reduction in saliva also causes tooth decay and sometimesthe loss of teeth. Radiation reduces the amount of absorptive tissue in the small intestine. In addition, it can cause bowel obstruction or diarrhea.
Chemotherapy reduces the ability of the small intestine to regenerate absorptive cells, and it can cause hemorrhagic colitis. Both radiation and chemotherapy depress appetite. They may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea leading to fluid and electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to fluid retention. However, when the therapy is completed and the client is able to return to a well-balanced diet, these problems may disappear.
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