Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins;; 2018:196-217. This is an important mineral you may lose through diarrhea. Here are some tips that may help you manage mouth problems: If these measures are not enough, ask your cancer care team for advice. We’ve invested more than $4.9 billion in cancer research since 1946, all to find more – and better – treatments, uncover factors that may cause cancer, and improve cancer patients’ quality of life. Fatigue is feeling tired physically, mentally, and emotionally. Side effects of radiation therapy to the chest may include: skin problems. For women: During radiation treatment to the pelvis, some women are told not to have sex. Dr Madhavi Chilkuri, Radiation Oncologist, Townsville Cancer Centre, The Townsville Hospital, and Dean, RANZCR Faculty of Radiation Oncology, QLD; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Patricia Hanley, Consumer; Prof Michael Hofman, Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Leanne Hoy, Cancer Nurse Consultant, GenesisCare, VIC; Sharon King, Accredited Practising Dietitian, TAS; Dr Yoo Young (Dominique) Lee, Radiation Oncology Consultant, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Dr Wendy Phillips, Senior Medical Physicist, Department of Radiation Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Katrina Rech, Radiation Therapist and Quality Systems Manager, GenesisCare, SA. Only you know if you have fatigue and how bad it is. Because radiation therapy is a localized treatment, most side effects develop in the treatment area (for lung cancer, that is the chest). Heart complications: Radiation to the breast can also affect the heart. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. It was common for treatment side effects such as pain, itchy skin, swelling and fatigue to go unrecognized. It’s more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema (which involves gradual damage of lung tissue). It can last a long time and can get in the way of your usual activities. Radiation can be an effective treatment for breast cancer, but it does have side effects. With some types of radiation therapy involving the pelvis and/or sex organs, men and women may notice changes in their ability to enjoy sex or a decrease in their level of desire. This can cause long-term problems such as blood in the urine or painful urination. Burns and Other Side Effects Numb Arm. General side effects of radiation treatment can happen when radiation is given to any area of the body, but they depend on a number of things, including the specific area or organs being treated, the size of the area being treated and the type of radiation treatment being administered. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Bombarding cancer cells with radiation will cause damage to the cancer cells’ DNA. Some people have few or no side effects, while others have quite a few. Radiation treatment to your head and neck can increase your chances of getting cavities. Nausea and vomiting may occur, but can be treated with medicine. Sip cool drinks often throughout the day. In DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. Some types of treatment can have long-term effects, such as scar tissue that could affect the ability of the vagina to stretch during sex. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. Imagine a world free from cancer. Rinse your mouth with warm salt and soda water every 1 to 2 hours as needed. Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include: Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray. After you complete radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist or other medical providers will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress, look for late side effects and check for signs of cancer recurrence. In some cases, though, the treated skin will stay darker and might be more sensitive than it was before. Most people start to feel tired after a few weeks of radiation therapy. Be sure you understand what to look for and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects. 18521. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer Principles and Practice of Oncology. See Lymphedema for more information. If you wear dentures, they may no longer fit well because of swollen gums. The side effects of radiation therapy often relate to the type of cancer and the part of the body treated, so it can be useful to read about the type of cancer you have. You become confused or can’t focus your thoughts. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. As with any disease-fighting treatment or cancer therapy, side effects differ in patients depending on health, age, type of radiation, type of cancer, and how much radiation is given. Common general side effects of radiation therapy Fatigue. And, ultimately, it can affect your quality of life when you feel exhausted all the time. Recent research advances and new technology have facilitated highly precise radiation delivery techniques, which can reduce the impact on surrounding healthy tissue and the likelihood of side effects. American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America. Side effects of radiation therapy in the treatment of colon cancer Skin irritation at the site where the radiation was given. Oncology Nursing Forum. Here are some ways to do this: Radiation therapy can cause hair to be thinned or lost in the area being treated. Report these symptoms to your cancer care and ask them how to relieve these side effects.Sometimes menstrual periods will return when radiation therapy is over, but sometimes they do not. Help make it a reality. Cancer Council NSW is registered with the Australian Taxation Office as an Income Tax Exempt Charity: Charitable Fundraising Authority No. See Fertility and Women With Cancer to learn more. Ask your cancer care team about medicines to help treat mouth sores and control pain while eating. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation. Tom’s side effects, according to his wife, ranged from severe fatigue, an inability to swallow food along with the resulting weight loss, and even an inability to have blood drawn. Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects: Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. These may include proctitis (rectal inflammation), cystitis (bladder inflammation), urinary or rectal bleeding, narrowing of the rectum or urethra, chronic diarrhea or urinary frequency or urgency, or development of an ulcer in the rectum. It’s best to do this before starting treatment so you are aware of possible risks to your fertility. Either way you choose, it’s important to describe your fatigue to your cancer care team. See “If you’re getting radiation to the chest” below for more details. Find Support Programs and Services in Your Area, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walks, Common Questions About the COVID-19 Outbreak, How Radiation Therapy Is Used to Treat Cancer, Getting Internal Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy), Getting Oral or Systemic Radiation Therapy, red, irritated, swollen, blistered, sunburned, or tanned. People who get radiation to the head and neck might have side effects such as: If you get radiation therapy to the head or neck, you need to take good care of your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. (Use 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 quart of water.). If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away. It can cause hardening of the arteries (which can make you more likely to have a heart attack later on), heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats. It’s also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. Hair loss. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries (which can make you more likely to have a heart attack later on), heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats. Doctors who specialize in treating cancers with radiation are known as radiation oncologists. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. As is to be expected, though, the treatment does have some side-effects. Your fatigue disrupts your social life or daily routine. Moisten food with gravies and sauces to make it easier to eat. Damage to the nerves in the shoulder and arm: Radiation to the breast can sometimes damage some of the nerves to the arm. The good news is that there are some things you can do to ease the side effects of radiation therapy and maintain your health and sanity. Lung damage (radiation pneumonitis): Getting radiation to the breast can sometimes cause an inflammation of the lungs, which is called radiation pneumonitis. Talk with your doctor about treatment options if this is a concern for you. Your skin in the radiation treatment area might look red, irritated, swollen, blistered, sunburned, or tanned. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. You can also get more information in Sex and Women With Cancer. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs you’re thinking about using. Side Effects of Radiation Therapy. For men: Radiation therapy to an area that includes the testicles can reduce both the number of sperm and their ability to function. These side effects may last long after treatment. Rarely, radiation therapy can cause changes in your blood count levels. Side effects of radiation therapy. The side effects from radiation can be lifelong issues that are sometimes life-threatening. Treatment can also cause vaginal itching, burning, and dryness. You may also have some of the same side effects that happen with external radiation treatment. Again, your cancer care team can offer ways to help if this happens to you. Unexplained weight loss 4. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. There are two kinds of radiation side effects: early and late. Rib fractures: In rare cases, radiation therapy may weaken the ribs, which could lead to a fracture. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. Other types of internal radiation therapy. Many will be short-term side effects that occur during treatment or within a few weeks of finishing.. Side effects can take several weeks to get better, though some may continue longer. Cancer happens when cells divide and multiply much faster than most normal cells. Morgan MA, TenHaken RK, Lawrence TS. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Chemotherapy (or "chemo") and radiation therapy are the two most common types of cancer treatment. Try a clear liquid diet (water, weak tea, apple juice, peach nectar, clear broth, popsicles, and plain gelatin) as soon as diarrhea starts or when you feel like it’s going to start. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for. Once radiation therapy ends, side effects will mostly go away within 2 weeks . You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. But it will usually go away over time after treatment ends. However, they may include more frequent urination or a more urgent sense of the need to urinate, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction or a decrease in fertility. Radiation can cause cystitis which is damage in the inner lining of the bladder. Ask your cancer care team if you have any questions or concerns about hair loss. Don’t eat or drink very hot or very cold foods or beverages. Essentials of radiation therapy. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy. This table lists some common side effects of radiation therapy but you are unlikely to experience all of them. View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy. The best measure of fatigue comes from your own report to your cancer care team. They can suggest ways to ease the discomfort, lessen further irritation, and prevent infection. Learn how relaxation and mediation can help you both during and after cancer treatment, or listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks. It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. MSK’s radiation oncologists work hard to minimize the side effects of treatment. Most likely, you will be told to: If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects. Side effects of radiation therapy in breast cancer patients are often missed by doctors, U.S. researchers report. Most often, side effects from radiation therapy begin within a few weeks after starting treatment . Below are some of the most common tonsil cancer radiation side effects: Difficulty chewing or swallowing solid food Changes in your sense of taste Tell your cancer care team if this causes bleeding or other problems. These problems usually go away gradually after treatment ends. External beam therapy. When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air. If you have one or more problem teeth, your dentist may suggest removing them before you start treatment. When the diarrhea starts to improve, try eating small amounts of low-fiber foods, such as rice, bananas, applesauce, yogurt, mashed potatoes, low-fat cottage cheese, and dry toast. The side effects of radiation therapy tend to be mild when compared with other cancer treatments. American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America. Diet changes may also be recommended, such as: Radiation therapy to the pelvis (for example, as treatment for bladder, ovarian, or prostate cancer) can cause side effects such as: You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Don’t eat foods that are high in fiber or can cause gas or cramps, such as raw fruits and vegetables, beans, cabbage, whole-grain breads and cereals, sweets, and spicy foods. Early and late side effects may include any of the following: If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen (belly), you may have side effects such as: Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Diarrhea is common, but usually can be controlled with over-the-counter medicines. Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. You may experience no side effects, or you may experience several. Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum, Need legal and financial assistance? Rinse your mouth well with cool water or a baking soda solution after you brush. If you do lose your hair, your scalp may be tender and you may want to cover your head. These practices can help lessen pain. If the problem doesn’t go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Your dentist may want to see you during your radiation therapy to check your teeth, talk to you about caring for your mouth and teeth, and help you deal with any problems. You can get more information in Sex and Men With Cancer. Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. Whether you or someone you love has cancer, knowing what to expect can help you cope. How is immunotherapy different from other cancer treatments? Don’t smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol – these can make mouth sores worse. Your cancer care team may prescribe medicines or give you special instructions to help with the problem. Cancer information for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, Sunsmart: Early Childhood, Primary Schools and Out of School Hours. You most likely will be able to have sex within a few weeks after treatment ends, but check with your doctor first. Many of my patients suffer from lack of sleep, malnutrition, fatigue and skin irritation, and some aren’t quite sure how to cope.. Managing fatigue is an important part of care. One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later – usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. Your fatigue doesn’t get better, keeps coming back, or gets worse. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment you’re getting. Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. I mentioned this above, but the circulation in my left arm was worse during radiation therapy. The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. We can even find you a free ride to treatment or a free place to stay when treatment is far from home. During radiation therapy, high-energy x-rays are used to kill cancer cells. Accessed at https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/submenu.cfm?pg=onco on December 26, 2019. This is called brachial plexopathy and can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the shoulder, arm, and hand. American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America. Do not drink milk or eat milk products if they irritate your bowels. For Cross, cancer treatment wasn’t what you would call a breeze. Treatments for this category of cancers often includes either chemotherapy, radiation, or both. From basic information about cancer and its causes to in-depth information on specific cancer types – including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment options – you’ll find it here. This happens because radiation treatments destroy some healthy cells as well as the cancer cells. For men: Radiation may affect the nerves that allow a man to have erections. Learn more about these partnerships and how you too can join us in our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely. Radiation therapy. This is especially true if you have dry mouth as a result of treatment. Although it’s rare, radiation to the breast can affect organs in the chest, including the heart and lungs. Available Every Minute of Every Day. When it does grow back, your hair may be thinner or a different texture than it was before. Research. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. What Is Cancer? The side effects of radiation therapy for breast cancer depend on the type of radiation therapy you’re having (external or internal/brachytherapy), the technique (whole-breast or partial-breast radiation), and the area being treated (the breast or an area where the cancer … Sometimes the size of your breast changes – it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. After a few weeks, your skin might become dry, flaky, or itchy, or it may peel. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America. Coping with cancer? Some women may find sex painful. It affects muscle strength. Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do. Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. “The side effects are so gnarly,” she said of her experience with chemotherapy. If this isn’t possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires. Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as: Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs. Talk to your cancer team if it’s not under control or if you have any side effects. If you want to father a child in the future and are concerned about reduced fertility, talk to your cancer care team before starting treatment. Radiotherapy can impair your body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Depending on the radiation dose, women getting radiation therapy in the pelvic area sometimes stop having menstrual periods and have other symptoms of menopause. 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