Our bodies produce modest levels of steroids naturally. They aid in the regulation of several activities, including the immune system, inflammation reduction, and blood pressure control.
Man-made steroids can also be used to treat a variety of ailments and disorders. This article contains information on the use of steroids in cancer treatment.
Corticosteroids are the most common form of testosterone cypionate for sale given to cancer patients as part of their treatment. These are synthetic copies of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which are located directly above the kidneys.
The following steroid drugs are used to treat cancer:
- prednisolone \smethylprednisolone \sdexamethasone \shydrocortisone
What are the effects of steroids?
Steroids aid in the regulation of a variety of bodily activities, including:
- how your body converts food into energy (metabolism)
- regulating blood pressure through maintaining the balance of salt and water in your body
- Controlling mood and behavior through decreasing allergens and inflammation
What are the benefits of using steroids in cancer treatment?
Steroids may be prescribed as part of your cancer treatment for a variety of reasons.
They are able to:
- the malignancy must be treated
Reduce inflammation and your body’s immune response, such as after a bone marrow transplant, and help you feel better when you’re having chemotherapy.
They might be in your possession:
- When you initially get a cancer diagnosis, before and after surgery, before and after radiotherapy, and before, during, and after chemotherapy treatment for advanced cancer
How did you get your steroid?
The following are the most typical ways to take steroids during cancer treatment:
- liquid or pill (take them after a meal or with milk as they can irritate your stomach)
- A vein injection is a procedure that involves injecting a substance into a vein (intravenous)
Make sure you follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions for taking your steroids. Take the correct amount of medication, not more or less. Also, don’t stop taking them without first consulting your doctor.
When you’re on anabolic steroids,
Depending on why you’re taking steroids, the dose and length of treatment will vary.
It’s possible that you’ll have to take them:
- once every other day, numerous times a day
If you take steroids for more than three weeks, you should keep a steroid card with you at all times. A medical alert bracelet may be recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. This is in case you require medical assistance in an emergency. It informs the medical personnel that you are on steroids.
- Always inform your dentist if you are on steroids.
- Taking a break from steroid therapy
- Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking your steroids.
The greater levels of steroid pills in your bloodstream prevent your body from producing its own supply. Stopping them abruptly can result in serious consequences, such as:
- Skin that is pallid, chilly, and clammy
Fast sweating, short breathing, disorientation, or feeling unwell diarrhoea
It’s never a good idea to quit taking your medications all of a sudden. Reduce them gradually, with the assistance and supervision of your doctor or pharmacist.
Before and during your therapy, you will have blood testing. They examine your blood for amounts of blood cells and other chemicals. They’ll also examine your liver and kidneys to see how well they’re operating.
We haven’t covered all of the possible adverse effects. It’s possible that you’ll get some of them, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get all of them. Some of the side effects may occur at the same time.
The frequency and severity of side effects varies from person to person. We can’t give an estimate of how common these side effects are because it depends on:
what additional treatments you are receiving – for example, if you are receiving other medications or radiotherapy in addition to the steroid treatment, your adverse effects may be severe (for example to treat your cancer or to help with symptoms)
If you’re using steroids for a short or lengthy period of time, the dose of steroids will be different.
When should you call your team?
The possible side effects will be discussed with you by your doctor or nurse. They’ll keep a close eye on you during treatment and check in with you at your sessions to see how you’re doing. If you are experiencing any of the following problems, please contact your assistance line as soon as possible:
- You’re suffering from significant adverse effects.
- Your side effects don’t seem to be improving.
- Your side effects are escalating.
- Early therapy can make it easier to manage side effects.
You may have one or more of the following adverse effects. They are as follows:
- Infection risk is higher.
Steroids can mask or alter the appearance of some infections. They may also make it more difficult for your body to fight an infection. As a result, early detection of infections is more challenging.
A change in temperature, aching muscles, headaches, feeling chilly and shivery, and feeling generally unwell are all signs of infection. Depending on where the infection is located, you may experience other symptoms.
Infections can be life-threatening in some cases. If you suspect you have an infection, call your advice line right away.
When you use steroids, you may feel more worried and emotional than usual. After you stop taking them, you may feel fatigued and depressed for a while.
When people take steroids, up to 6 out of 100 persons (6%) develop major mental health problems. Depression is one of them. If you observe any changes in your emotional or psychological well-being, tell your doctor. If you or a family member has ever suffered from depression or manic depression, tell your doctor (bipolar disorder).
Steroids can occasionally create a condition known as steroid-induced psychosis. People can become enthralled, perplexed, and believe in things that aren’t true. This can be alarming, but once you stop taking the steroids, it will go away.
Blood sugar levels fluctuate
You may be subjected to routine blood and urine testing to determine this. Diabetes affects some people. You may require blood sugar lowering medication. However, if you stop using steroids, your sugar levels normally return to normal.
If you already have diabetes, you should check your blood sugar levels more frequently than normal.
Weight gain and increased hunger
Steroids can make you hungrier. It can be tough to maintain a healthy weight while you’re hungry. When you stop using steroids, your appetite will return to normal, but some people will need to diet to shed the extra weight.
Consult your nurse or nutritionist for advice on how to maintain a healthy weight.
- a buildup of fluid
Swelling in the arms, hands, ankles, legs, face, and other regions of the body can be caused by a buildup of fluid. If this happens to you, see your doctor.
It may be beneficial to alter your sleeping habits, such as when and where you sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and relax for a few minutes before going to bed. Daily mild exercise may also be beneficial.
Take your steroids first thing in the morning or around midday.
Heartburn or indigestion
Because the tablets can upset your stomach, take them after a meal or with milk.
Steroids can cause stomach ulcers or ulcers in the upper section of the small intestine (duodenum).
If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor or nurse.
a scorching or gnawing discomfort in your stomach (abdomen)
Cushing’s syndrome causes changes to your face and look.
You might start to develop:
- stretch marks acne increased facial hair a bloated or puffy face
- You may gain weight around your stomach (abdomen).
- This can be really distressing. Any of these side effects should be discussed with your doctor or nurse.
- Blood pressure that is too high
- If you develop headaches, nosebleeds, blurred or double vision, or shortness of breath, tell your doctor or nurse. Your blood pressure will be checked on a regular basis by your nurse.
Problems with the eyes
You could have a variety of eye disorders, including:
- The lens of the eye becomes clouded (cataracts)
- Glaucoma is a disease that affects the eyes (damage to an eyesight nerve)
- Infections of the eyes
- visual difficulties, such as blurred vision caused by increased pressure on the eyesight nerve
If you have any difficulties with your eyes, tell your doctor or nurse.
- Changes in the skin
- Changes in the skin could include:
- rashes, bruises, and skin thinning
- Wounds may take longer than usual to heal.
- Bones that are weaker
- You may have weaker bones as a result of bone loss (osteoporosis).
- Dizziness and a sense of being off balance (vertigo)
- You may feel dizzy and as though the room is spinning around you. This is a case of vertigo. If this occurs, notify your doctor or nurse.
- The amount of white blood cells has increased.
- The amount of white blood cells in your blood can be increased by taking steroids. A comprehensive blood count test may reveal this to your doctor.
- The color of your hair can vary.
- It’s possible that you have more body hair than usual. It’s possible that the hair on your head is thinning. Other people are usually unaware of this, although it can be distressing.
- Problems with the heart
- If you’ve just had a heart attack, steroids can trigger serious heart difficulties.
- Muscle atrophy
- Walking or climbing stairs may become more challenging when your legs become weaker. After quitting treatment, you may experience muscle aches for a brief time.
Reaction to allergens
A skin rash, itching, swelling of the lips, face, or throat, breathing difficulty, fever, and chills could all be symptoms of an allergic reaction to steroids. If you ever feel strange or abnormal, tell your nurse or doctor right away.
If your headaches persist, speak with your doctor or nurse. They may be able to provide you with painkillers to assist you.
Children’s growth difficulties
Steroids have the potential to induce growth issues in newborns, children, and teenagers. Your child’s doctor will weigh the benefits and hazards of giving him or her heavy dosages of steroids.
Potassium deficiency in the blood
If you develop cramping in your arm or leg muscles, tingling or numbness, palpitations (feeling your heart beat irregularly), or if you feel faint, tell your doctor or nurse.
Hypokalaemia refers to a low potassium level in the blood. During cancer therapy, you may have blood tests to screen for this.
Your bottom is burning or tingling.
During a steroid injection into a vein, you may experience a burning or tingling feeling around your bottom (intravenous). It generally disappears soon the injection is completed. To avoid this, your nurse will administer the injection slowly.
Epilepsy is becoming worse.
If you have epilepsy, taking steroids could make it worse.
Clots in the blood
Blood clots can form in the deep veins of the body, most commonly in the leg. Deep vein thrombosis is the medical term for this (DVT). Although pulmonary embolism is uncommon, a blood clot that spreads to your lungs can be highly dangerous.
A blood clot can cause the following symptoms:
• discomfort, redness, and swelling surrounding the clot, which may feel warm to the touch • shortness of breath • pain in your chest or upper back — call 999 • Coughing up blood if you have chest pain
If you have any signs or symptoms of a blood clot, call your doctor or go to A&E very away.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.
This medication has the potential to cause pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis). If you get sudden and severe stomach pain, call your doctor right once (abdomen).
Changes throughout your cycle
Women’s menstruation may be erratic or cease entirely (amenorrhoea).
Changes in the liver
You could have minor liver alterations that are unlikely to cause symptoms. When the treatment is finished, they normally return to normal. Regular blood tests are performed to monitor any changes in your liver’s function.
Managing side effects
We have more information about side effects as well as coping strategies.
Is there anything more I should know?
Shingles with chicken pox
If you’ve never had chicken pox or shingles, stay away from those who have them while on steroids. They have the potential to make you quite sick.
Tell your doctor or nurse right immediately if you come into contact with someone who has them.
Other medications, foods, and beverages
Some cancer medications and herbal products can interact with each other. Any medications you’re taking should be disclosed to your doctor or pharmacist. Vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications all fall within this category.
Contraception and pregnancy
This treatment has the potential to harm a baby in the womb. Before beginning cancer treatment, talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception.
There is evidence that steroid medications can pass through your breast milk. Consult your doctor about breastfeeding. You and your infant can make a decision based on the benefits to you and the hazards to your kid.
Other conditions’ treatment
If you require care for anything else, including tooth problems, always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or dentists that you’re having this treatment.
Don’t get live vaccine immunizations while you’re getting treatment and for up to a year following. The duration of your treatment is determined by the type of treatment you are receiving. Inquire with your doctor or pharmacist about the length of time you should avoid live vaccines.
Rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever, and the shingles vaccine are all live vaccines available in the United Kingdom (Zostavax).
If you’ve gotten the following vaccinations, you might be able to get more.
- steroids at tiny doses for a brief length of time (less than 2 weeks)
- eye drops or lotions with topical steroid therapy
- Avoid close contact with patients who have recently received live vaccines (oral vaccines) such as the oral polio vaccine or the typhoid vaccine.
This includes the rotavirus vaccine that is given to infants. The virus can be found in the baby’s feces for up to two weeks and can make you sick. If at all possible, avoid changing their diapers for at least two weeks after their vaccine. Alternatively, put on disposable gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterward.
If your immune system is significantly impaired, you should avoid close contact with children who have received the flu vaccine nasal spray.