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Health Information For Teens
The word steroid might make you think of “roid rage” or side effects in athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders who use them. But if your doctor prescribed a steroid as part of your cancer treatment, don’t worry. It’s not “that” kind of steroid. It’s an important cancer medicine.
Steroids are chemicals made normally by the body. Other steroids are manmade medicines. Both have many different jobs and help organs work properly. The most common steroids used include:
Steroids can reduce
(irritation and swelling) in the body. Sometimes they lower the body’s ability to fight infection.
Steroids can help with cancer treatment in a variety of ways. They can:
Steroids used in medical treatments can have some side effects. Talk to your doctor and ask questions if you have concerns.
You may not have any side effects. But if they do happen, they’ll only last as long as you take the steroids. When treatment stops, things will return to normal pretty quickly.
Some of the more common side effects of steroid treatments include:
Less common side effects include trouble fighting infections, acne flare-ups, and increased facial hair.
Doctors can prescribe steroids for cancer treatment in several ways:
The doctors will give you all the details, but there are some things to remember when you take steroids by mouth for cancer treatment. Steroids, both the liquid and the pill form, have a bitter somewhat unpleasant taste.
To make sure you don’t miss any doses:
Steroids can irritate the stomach. To protect it, you should take them with food in your stomach. The doctor might recommend stomach medicines, either prescribed or over the counter (such as Zantac, Pepcid, or Prilosec). It might help to start taking these medicines a couple of days before the steroids begin and continue taking them for a few days after the steroids are done.
Don’t stop the steroids without your doctor’s advice. If you notice anything strange while you take the steroids, tell the doctor right away. Sometimes, steroid medicine is decreased slowly over time (described as being weaned or tapered). Other times doctors may just stop the steroids. If this happens, your body could go through a type of withdrawal if it’s placed under a stressful situation like a new fever or infection.
You might have a steroid card or medical alert bracelet. A lot of steroid treatments happen in a doctor’s office or clinic. But some teens on long-term steroid treatment take pills at home, and might have a steroid card or wear a medical alert bracelet. You should keep this card on hand or wear the medical alert bracelet at all times. If there’s an emergency, the card or bracelet will let doctors know about the steroids, which can change the treatment they give you.
Get the basics on cancer and cancer treatments in this article.
If you’ve just finished a long hospital stay, you may have questions about reconnecting with friends and family. Get answers in this article for teens.
It’s unusual for teens to have cancer, but it can happen. The good news is that most will survive and return to their everyday lives. Learn about how to cope if you or someone you know has cancer.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells. Find out how chemo works and what to expect when getting treatment.
More than half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy. Get the facts on radiation therapy, including what it is, what to expect, and how to cope with side effects.
Visit our Cancer Center for teens to get information and advice on treating and coping with cancer.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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