Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Research Side Effects

We get a lot of questions about how (or "whether") you can research side effects on the LATESTBreastCancer.com site. Not only can you research them, you can do so very thoroughly. No, it isn't as simple as typing "bone pain" into Google, but by using a more thoughtful approach, you'll end up with a more complete answer and you'll likely finish your research faster.

LATESTBreastCancer.com is organized by treatment options, so the key is to think of a side effect as being: 1) caused by a treatment option, and 2) addressed by a treatment option.

The side effects of a treatment option.
If you want to learn about the side effects associated with a treatment option (for example, "Herceptin") simply go to that treatment option page. You can find Herceptin under Drugs > Targeted Drugs, or you can enter Herceptin (or trastuzumab) in the search box. On the Herceptin page every high quality article that we have found over the past 2 years -- including every article about side effects -- is organized by type:

Descriptions: Get overviews of the side effects caused by Herceptin.

FDA Info: Check out Herceptin's FDA approved product label. It provides more detail about the types and frequencies of specific side effects.

News articles: Scan the articles to see if there is any new information about a side effect.

Medical journal abstracts: Scan the list for very recent, detailed information about side effects seen in specific patient populations or in specific treatment settings.

Within the Herceptin links, we include articles related to side effects caused by Herceptin as well as articles related to the treatment of side effects specifically caused by Herceptin.

Understanding your options for treating a side effect.
If you want to research how to address a side effect, every option is listed on the site. Go to Treatments and scan the lists of drugs and complementary therapies.

Drugs for side effects: Found in the Drugs section. Each drug summary states the side effect that the drug addresses. For example, EMEND: NAUSEA, and XGEVA: BONE-RELATED. This enables you to quickly scan the list.

Nutritional supplements: In addition to pharmaceuticals, some complementary therapies may address side effects for some women. We use the same convention of identifying the side effect at the beginning of each summary in capital letters: "Black cohosh: HOT FLASHES", "Ginger: NAUSEA."

Other complementary approaches: Other forms of complementary options might also be relevant to you. For example, under Mind Body Connection you'll find "Hypnosis: HOT FLASHES, PAIN", "Meditation: STRESS, ANXIETY." Under Manipulation and Touch you'll find "Acupuncture: NAUSEA."

In summary, with LATESTBreastCancer you can research side effects thoroughly, find the latest information quickly, and (unlike Google searching) easily identify options that you might not have known about.

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