Photo/IllutrationThe guidebook “No How To,” addressing male cancer patients who worry about their appearance, is released on Jan. 24. (Provided by the National Cancer Center)

Changes to physical appearance brought on by being treated for cancer often leave male patients needing a “how-to” manual to deal with the side effects.

Although no catch-all exists, patients should not struggle alone as a wealth of expertise is available to help them, according to the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward.

On Jan. 24, the center published its first guidebook on the subject for male cancer patients.

The 68-page “No How To” guide introduces first-hand accounts from numerous men of their experience coping with side effects from cancer drugs and radiation treatments along with practical tips for how to moisturize skin and make up for lost eyebrows.

Similar information for female cancer patients is relatively widely available.

Hair loss, darkened skin pigmentation and changes to eyebrows and nails often cause cancer patients to become depressed about their personal appearance and sometimes lead them to become socially isolated.

“When I was losing my hair for the first time, I cried aloud … I thought I couldn’t meet people anymore … That was how things started off,” one man writes in the guidebook.

“Symptoms differ depending on the treatment and when patients undergo it,” another patient recalls. “But if we know what symptoms we have to expect in advance, it will minimize the shock whatever the symptoms are.”

The National Cancer Center Hospital in 2013 set up a support center to counsel patients on how to deal with changes to their appearance brought on by cancer treatments.

“Patients shouldn't worry alone about coping with the effects of treatment,” said Keiko Nozawa, who heads the support center. “We want them to know that unlimited methods that they can tailor to their individual needs are available.”

The title of the guidebook means that it offers a wide range of options for each patient to choose from, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

The center's guidebook in Japanese can be viewed online at: (https://www.ncc.go.jp/jp/ncch/division/appearance/index.html)