June 09, 2023
After your cancer diagnosis comes treatment. After your cancer treatment comes … what?
The rest of your life, says Andrew L. Salner, MD, a radiation oncologist and medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital.
“We have 18 million cancer survivors nationally,” says Dr. Salner. “As cancer therapy improves and cancers are detected earlier, the numbers are getting better all the time. I tell my patients, your goal is to live as healthy a life as possible after cancer therapy in the hopes you will have a long and happy life. You’re not just a cancer patient. You’re a whole person.”
Dr. Salner shared five tips with us.
1. Stay active.
The recommendation is for 150-300 minutes of physical activity a week, with exercise a minimum of five days per week. Dr. Salner notes that being physically active helps to reduce cancer recurrence risk, boosts energy, helps to reduce anxiety and stress, helps to maintain a healthy weight, and helps to manage other medical conditions.
But he adds that this recommendation doesn’t mean everyone needs to start training for a marathon. “Start slow,” he advises patients who haven’t exercised much. “A five to 10 minute brisk walk a few days a week. Build from there.”
2. Avoid tobacco.
“Smoking is still the biggest cause of cancer-related mortality, please seek help in quitting all tobacco products,” he says.
3. Take in nicely.
Salner says scientific tests display that meal plans reduced in sources of saturated fats these kinds of as red and processed meat, reduced in carbohydrates, and larger in greens and fruit (plant-based eating plans), can decrease next most cancers danger and improve overall health.
“Eating 5 servings of greens and fruit everyday would be a good goal,” he says. “Opting for legumes (beans) and entire grains alternatively than processed foods is a healthier preference.”
4. Limit alcohol intake.
Liquor use, specially if extreme, may perhaps increase threat of various cancers.
5. Reduce pressure and sleep perfectly.
“Reducing strain will improve quality of existence and can be accomplished through typical training, leisure and meditation techniques, counseling, and interacting with family members and pals,” he claims.
“Getting adequate rest is an critical portion of restoration and can be aided by steering clear of caffeine for 8 several hours right before bedtime, adhering to a frequent snooze plan, preventing system and Television set display time for an hour or so ahead of bedtime, keeping away from work out in the 3 hours ahead of bedtime, and preserving your bed room silent and cool.”
A big contributor to pressure in put up-most cancers existence is the anxiety of recurrence,” Dr. Salner notes. “It’s why we have counseling readily available for patients who have an frustrating degree of fear,” he suggests. “And when the concern of recurrence does get improved in excess of time, it is probably always there. Speak with your oncologist about what you are emotion. They can make a referral.”