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Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment consists of a variety of medical therapies that can reduce, control, or eliminate cancer cells in a person's body. There are many treatments for cancer; the most common are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Cancer treatments can cause significant side effects due to the nature of the treatment.
Chemotherapy kills both cancer and healthy cells which can cause side effects such as physical and cognitive fatigue, nausea, pain, immune suppression, etc. Students who are undergoing cancer treatment may require accommodation to continue with school during and after treatment.

Observing Cancer Treatment in the Classroom

Faculty may observe the following for students undergoing cancer treatment:

  • May be more frequently absent for treatment and recovery
  • May experience physical and cognitive fatigue
  • May need to leave class unexpectedly
  • May need to be absent to avoid contracting infection


Related Functional Characteristics

Bodily Function Control : Chemotherapy and radiation have the capacity to impact bodily functions.

Chemical Sensitivity : Students undergoing cancer treatment may need to avoid exposure to chemicals that might exacerbate symptoms or side effects (e.g. skin problems, respiratory difficulties); students recovering after cancer treatment need to limit their exposure to chemicals known to cause cancer (e.g. cigarette smoke, formaldehyde).

Climate Sensitivity : Chemotherapy can cause nerve damage which can increase students' sensitivity to heat and cold.

Fatigue (Cognitive) : Students undergoing cancer treatment may experience cognitive fatigue due to side effects of their treatment.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students going through cancer treatment may experience physical fatigue due to side effects of their treatment. Such side effects may include disrupted sleep patterns, ongoing nausea, pain, headaches, or fever.

Motor Skill (Fine) : Neuropathy is a common side effect of cancer treatment which causes difficulty with fine motor skills.

Pain Management : Both radiation and chemotherapy cause cell damage and can result in sore muscles, radiation burns, or neuropathy.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : Students undergoing cancer treatment may require medical staff or home health aides to visit them in order to administer medications, maintain medical equipment such as feeding tubes or nebulizers, or provide support and assistance with daily living.

Seizures : Some cancer treatments can cause disruption in brain activity resulting in seizures.

Sensory Distractibility : Students who have had radiation or chemotherapy may experience impairments in their ability to concentrate and to switch between tasks.

Susceptibility to Infection : Chemotherapy and radiation impact the immune system leaving the student more prone to infections and vulnerable to viruses.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.