When someone has been diagnosed with cancer, there is an overwhelming amount of information to absorb and process in what can seem a very short window of time. When treatment such as chemotherapy starts, there are many things you need to think of in terms of your own physical comfort.
For example, some chemo drugs cause taste changes, due to the direct effect they have on taste receptor cells in the mouth. The drugs can also affect saliva in the mouth, which also causes taste changes.
Some people experience a metallic taste during chemo, especially while eating and drinking. Food and beverages can taste awful and even become inedible.
Good dental hygiene is really important. Cancer treatments can weaken your immune system and if your mouth is not as healthy as it could be prior to cancer treatment, you may be susceptible to infection, which if allowed to become serious could delay treatment.
It is therefore really important to ensure your teeth, gums and mouth are as healthy as possible, by brushing teeth often, flossing regularly and rinsing with water – avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
Another common side effect is nausea, which is a sick feeling in your stomach, which makes you feel like you have to vomit and can put you off your food.
Designed in conjunction with people undergoing cancer treatment, Cancer Support UK’s Chemo Kit has been specially created to help alleviate some of the side effects.
The kit contains carefully selected items to help offset the metallic taste and nausea, as well as products to assist you in protecting your dental health during cancer treatment:
- Sherbet lemon sweets – chewing hard candies with flavours such as lemon, mint or orange, can help mask a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.
- Ginger Tea Bags – ginger has been used as a herbal remedy to treat nausea for thousands of years. Research has shown that a small amount of ginger three times per day taken in the first six to 24 hours after chemo can ease symptoms.
- Sensitive toothpaste and alcohol free mouthwash – Sensitive toothpaste can help deal with gums that have become tender and inflamed.
Cancer Support UK’s Chemo Kit is ideal for someone starting treatment and is free to order. You can order one for yourself or for someone else. Other cancer kits provided by Cancer Support UK include general Cancer Kits for adults not receiving chemo, Kids’ Kits, which are designed for children living with cancer and undergoing treatment, and Comfort Kits for older cancer patients.