Sun, Heat A Risk For Cancer Patients

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Aug. 1 (UPI) — Because of their treatment, cancer patients are at higher risk from the sun so they should take precautions, U.S. physicians advise.

“Cancer patients may be more at risk for sun damage because of their treatment,” Dr. Elizabeth Kvale, director of outpatient supportive care and survivorship at University of Alabama at Birmingham and associate scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, says in a statement.

“Skin that has been treated with radiation therapy may lose some of its natural protective capacity because of the changes that occur with treatment. Radiation-exposed skin should be completely protected from sun exposure.”

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists recommends skin cancer patients also should take special care to protect areas of skin being treated; dark, tightly woven fabrics are most effective.

Patients receiving chemotherapy are more sensitive to the sun’s rays and it is important to cover surgical scars because they may darken if exposed to the sun, Kvale says.

Cancer patients who lose their hair during treatment should protect the scalp because it can burn easily, Kvale adds.

High heat is also a risk for cancer patients may be more susceptible to dehydration or heat exhaustion from side-effects of cancer treatment due to as vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

Patients should drink fluids throughout the day, chew on ice chips to relieve dry mouth, avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine and eat fruits and vegetables with high fluid content, Kvale advises.

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