When lung cancer and mesothelioma patients receive their diagnoses, it’s important to discuss treatment options. You talk to your doctor about what may be the most effective, what can cause various side effects and how long the regimen will last.
The conversation can get tricky, though, if you have another chronic disease, like diabetes. This illness already requires careful management, including regular blood sugar monitoring, dietary changes, physical activity needs and, in some cases, insulin injections.
Being diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer will demand even more of you. But don’t worry – it is possible.
Can cancer lead to diabetes?
You may be surprised to learn that diabetes and cancer have a few things in common. For example, they’re both considered not one single disease, but rather, a group of diseases. Cancer can strike any part of the body, and diabetes is a consequence of either insulin not working as well as it should or a lack of insulin production from the pancreas.
This last part is important to remember because asbestos-related cancers that affect the respiratory or digestive systems can sometimes metastasize, or spread, to nearby organs. If one of those organs is the pancreas, surgeons may have to remove it. Not having this organ will make you diabetic.
Treatment may cause blood sugar problems
Whenever you undergo therapy for more than one chronic disease, your doctors have to worry about one treatment interacting and causing problems with another. The combination of mesothelioma and diabetes is no different. Experts say that although cancer treatment usually doesn’t cause diabetes, certain therapies can cause problems with blood sugar. Specifically, radiation, steroids and various medications can cause blood glucose to spike.
However, government sources don’t list blood sugar problems as complications of pemetrexed or cisplatin, which are standard treatments of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Self-care is more important than ever
Remembering to manage diabetes is painstaking enough. Having to cope with cancer, too, may seem daunting, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Take things one step at a time.
Maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar requires making adjustments in your diet, but if radiation and chemotherapy cause you to experience gastrointestinal problems and nausea, food may be the last thing on your mind. Still, you have to eat and keep up your strength. For some patients with both mesothelioma and diabetes, it may seem like sweets are the most easily tolerated food. You may be able to allow yourself to eat these foods because at a time like this, calorie intake is more important than watching your blood sugar. Let your physicians know what your needs are, and they can adjust your medications accordingly to help you maintain healthy glucose levels.
Physical activity is important in both cases of diabetes and lung cancer. It helps control blood sugar and it keeps you strong and fit. Of course, fatigue may make exercise sound incredibly unappealing. Just remember that you don’t have to power your way through a massive workout. If you can manage to go for a 10-minute walk three times a day, that can be sufficient.
As always, remember to check your blood sugar on a regular basis. Aside from mesothelioma and diabetes treatments, the stress of your condition may also spike your glucose levels. Share these results with your physicians – both those who treat your diabetes and those who handle the cancer – so that they can make the necessary adjustments in your regimens.