Radiotherapy side effects

Radiotherapy side effects

radiotherapy side effects

The side effects you may experience will depend on the part of the body that is being treated and how much treatment you have. Side effects only affect the part of the body that is treated. Everyone reacts to radiotherapy differently and many people have hardly any side effects. The radiographers will give you lots of support and advice to care for and manage the side effects.

You will also be given written information about the side effects relevant to your treatment. Most side effects are temporary and they are rarely severe. They may start at varying times during treatment and disappear in the weeks after the end of it. Some side effects may not start until treatment is finished.

Your doctor will discuss any possible temporary or permanent side effects with you before the start of your treatment and before you sign your consent form. Extra written information may be available.

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Skin problems are common with external radiation therapy because the radiation travels through the skin to reach the area being targeted for treatment. The skin in the radiated area may become red, dry or itchy. It may change color (become darker or tanned looking). Most skin reactions happen within the first 2 weeks of starting radiation therapy. They usually go away a few weeks after treatment, but some skin changes, like skin darkening or scarring, can be permanent. Some people do not experience any skin reactions with radiation therapy.

Hair loss (alopecia) or thinning of hair only happens in the area being treated with radiation therapy. How much hair loss you have and regrowth varies from person to person and depends on the dose of radiation. Hair loss can begin about 2 to 3 weeks after radiation therapy starts. Smaller doses of radiation usually result in temporary hair loss. Permanent hair loss is more common at higher doses. When hair regrows, usually about 3 to 6 months after radiation therapy is finished, the color or texture may be different and it may grow back thinner or patchy.

Loss of appetite can start within the first few weeks of radiation therapy and can continue after treatment has ended. Side effects like sore mouth, dry mouth, problems swallowing and nausea and vomiting can cause loss of appetite. Radiation therapy to the head and neck area can cause temporary changes in taste or smell, which can make foods seem less appetizing. Some people lose interest in food completely and don’t eat, even though they know they need to. Maintaining good nutrition during and after radiation therapy is important to help a person recover from treatment.

Nausea and vomiting can be a common side effect of external radiation therapy, especially if the treatment area includes the stomach and abdomen. It can also happen as a general side effect regardless of the area being treated. Radiation sickness usually goes away a few weeks after radiation therapy is finished.

Low blood cell counts happen because of radiation’s effect on blood cells made in the bone marrow. Low blood cell counts are more common if you receive chemotherapy at the same time as radiation therapy or if the treatment area includes the pelvic bones (where many blood cells are made). Low blood cell counts are usually not severe enough to cause problems. When there is a break from treatment for a few days, blood cell counts usually recover.

10 common questions about Radiotherapy side effects

1What are the most common side effects of radiation therapy?
The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin problems. You might get others, such as hair loss and nausea, depending on where you get radiation.
2
Is radiotherapy worse than chemo? Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The chemotherapy drugs can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiotherapy. This can help the radiotherapy to work better. ... Giving chemotherapy and radiotherapy together can make the side effects of treatment worse.
3What foods should I avoid during radiation?
Unpasteurized fruit juice or cider. Raw sprouts like alfalfa sprouts. Raw or undercooked beef (especially ground beef) or other raw or undercooked meat and poultry. Raw or undercooked shellfish, like oysters—These items may carry the hepatitis A virus and should be cooked thoroughly to destroy the virus
4What should you avoid during radiation?
Vitamins to Avoid During Radiation. Your radiation oncologist may tell you to avoid taking certain supplemental antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins C, A, D, and E, while you're having radiation therapy. ... Throughout your treatment, do your best to eat a well-balanced diet that contains all of the vitamins you need
5Does radiation cause weight loss?
These substances can lead to weight loss, muscle loss, and a decrease in appetite. ... Radiation and chemotherapy often cause a decrease in appetite. They can also lead to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and mouth sores, which can affect your ability to eat normally, further contributing to weight and muscle loss
6Can I work while having radiation therapy?
Radiation. You should be able to work while receiving radiation treatments. ... Radiation generally won't affect your ability to work: most people only have mild fatigue. For the greatest effectiveness from radiation therapy, once you start your treatment, it's essential to keep to a continuous schedule
7Can radiotherapy damage your lungs?
Radiotherapy can change the cells lining the lungs and cause a hardening and thickening (fibrosis) of the tissue. ... A short-term side effect that people may get 1–3 months after radiotherapy is inflammation of the lung (radiation pneumonitis). This causes symptoms such as breathlessness, a dry cough or chest pain.
8Does radiation stay in your body forever?
Their bodily fluids are not radioactive. Once the implant is removed, their body is radiation-free. Patients with permanent implants give off small doses of radiation as long as the radiation source is active – usually a few weeks or months
9Can cancer come back after radiotherapy?
Cancer may sometimes come back after cancer drug treatment or radiotherapy. ... Cells that were resting when you had your first treatment, may be dividing when you have your next and so will be more likely to die. But it is unlikely that any chemotherapy treatment will kill every single cancer cell in the body.
10What is the success rate of radiation therapy?
Radiation Therapy 95% Effective for Prostate Cancer Men with localised prostate cancer who are treated with external-beam radiation therapy have a cure rate of 95.5% for intermediate-risk prostate cancer and 91.3% for high-risk prostate cancer. The 5-year survival rate using this treatment is 98.8% overall

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