If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins? It is also best to protect affected skin from the sun. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. In this post, I will describe my experience with radiation therapy including tips and side effects. Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects: Headaches; Hair loss; Nausea; Vomiting; Extreme tiredness (fatigue) Hearing loss Lotion may help with skin changes, but be sure to check with your nurse or other health care team about which cream they recommend and when to apply it. Radiation can be an effective treatment for breast cancer, but it does have side effects. Radiation therapy is a treatment for cancer. As is to be expected, though, the treatment does have some side-effects. Are there any restrictions on exercising or other physical activity during this treatment? Many of the side effects in the list link to more information in the Side Effects section. Some side affects won’t show up until months or years after your treatment. Many of my patients suffer from lack of sleep, malnutrition, fatigue and skin irritation, and some aren’t quite sure how to cope.. © 2005-2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Side effects come from damage to healthy cells and tissues near the treatment area. Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include: Skin changes. Discuss this chart with your doctor or nurse. Radiation therapy side effects depend on which part of your body is being exposed to radiation and how much radiation is used. Side effects of radiation typically start showing up around 2 to 3 weeks into therapy. What to Expect When Having Radiation Therapy, National Cancer Institute: Radiation Therapy Side Effects. There are two kinds of radiation side effects: early and late. If so, how and for how long? What are other ways I can take care of myself during the treatment period? The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation. And, continue talking with the team throughout your treatment. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out. Patients who receive any type of radiation therapy (external beam or brachytherapy) to treat their prostate cancer can have side effects. Below is a list of possible short term side effects… 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. Malnutrition: Nearly all of the side effects of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer may contribute to malnutrition. Skin changes from radiation therapy usually go away a few weeks after treatment ends. These side effects depend on which part of the body received radiation therapy and other factors. For example, radiation therapy to the scalp may cause hair loss. This can cause them to break down, after which they are then be carried away from the body. Another problem would be ‘pneumonitis’. While cancer cells are particularly sensitive to radiation and are irreparably damaged by it, normal tissue cells have the ability to repair themselves after being exposed to radiation. This can cause long-term problems such as blood in the urine or painful urination. Urinary and Bladder Problems Keep in mind that side effects vary from person to person, even among people receiving the same type of cancer treatment. Want to use this content on your website or other digital platform? The side effects of radiation therapy in the treatment of bladder cancer depends on the dosage and the area undergoing treatment. Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. However, these radiotherapy side effects are less common and occur only when the radiation damages your body. There can also be emotional side effects, and seeking out mental health support to help with anxiety or stress is important. If I'm having side effects that affect my nutrition, can you recommend an oncology dietitian? 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. This means that it only affects the area of the body that is targeted. Long-Term Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer Studies show that over time, men who have undergone this procedure, tend to develop long-term side effects. One possible late effect is the development of a second cancer. Before treatment begins, ask what side effects are likely from the specific type of treatment you are receiving and when they may happen. Early side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, usually don’t last long. Yes. Learn about ways to preserve fertility for women. And during and after treatment, let your health care team know how you are feeling on a regular basis. Most side effects go away after treatment. Many patients experience fatigue. Find out why doctors recommend it, what it involves, and what side effects it can … Head and neck. Cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation can be life-extending and life-saving.But they come with side effects. But this can vary with individual experiences. Radiation can also give rise to inflammation of the lungs, thus damaging the spinal cord. Rare short- or long-term side effects It is rare and happens when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or soon after external-beam radiation therapy. Reactions to the radiation therapy often start during the second or third week of treatment. Infertility. Side effects from radiation are usually caused by irritation of normal tissue in the treatment area. Damage to the nerves and blood vessels in the surrounding area is likely, leading to fertility problems in men. Some occur as soon as treatment begins, while others hit weeks later because of the cumulative effects of chemo medications or exposure to radiation. Radiation therapy like any other treatment has its side effects too and before getting radiation it is important for the person to speak to the doctor on the possible side effects and how long they will last. "This is showing that, for the vast majority of women, the benefits of breast cancer radiation outweigh the risks [to the heart]," Taylor said. Learn how to cope with fatigue. Will special precautions be needed to protect my family and others from radiation exposure during my treatment period? Whether you might have late effects, and what they might be, depends on the part of your body that was treated, other cancer treatments you've had, genetics, and other factors, such as smoking.Ask your doctor or nurse which late effects you should watch for. The side effects of radiation will depend on the person, the location of the cancer, and the stage of the cancer. "Recognizing side effects is necessary for physicians to provide supportive care to help patients manage their symptoms," said study author Dr. Reshma Jagsi, deputy chair of the department of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan. Stomach and abdomen. Major long duration side effects of radiation therapy. Short Term Side Effects. Radiation therapy side effects depend on which part of your body is being exposed to radiation and how much radiation is used. You may experience no side effects, or you may experience several. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. These complications tend to be worse when there is an administration of chemotherapy with radiation. Side effects from radiation are usually caused by irritation of normal tissue in the treatment area. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “Radiation Therapy Side Effects was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”. Long-term issues generally occur after huge months and years of the treatment being done. Chest. Ask your health care team about ways to take care of yourself during the treatment period, including getting enough rest, eating well, and staying hydrated. But people who have radiation therapy to other parts of their body do not usually lose the hair on their head. However, these radiotherapy side effects are less common and occur only when the radiation … Who can I talk with if I'm feeling anxious or upset about having this treatment? Pelvis. Head and neck:Nausea, headaches, difficulty swallowing, mouth sores or swelling 2. Radiation recall is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. This is a new type of cancer that develops because of the original cancer treatment. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects. Rarely, it may be necessary to wait until the skin heals before continuing chemotherapy. These are called long-term or late effects. Many patients are surprised to discover that having radiation therapy is less difficult than they expected, though the radiation used to damage cancer in your body can also damage healthy cells. As is to be expected, though, the treatment does have some side-effects. A person may receive it alongside another treatment or alone. Changes in menstruation, such as having menstruation stop, Symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal itching, burning, dryness, and other changes to sexual health for women. This 1-page printable PDF gives an introduction to radiation therapy, including an overview of the different types of radiation, what to expect during treatment, possible side effects, terms to know, and questions to ask the health care team. While radiation therapy has improved significantly such that less damage occurs to healthy cells than in the past, some healthy tissues are inevitably exposed.2 Telangiectasia is a condition where tiny blood vessels are broken right underneath the skin, and is commonly known as… Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma, especially those diagnose… Doctors treat radiation recall with medications called corticosteroids. Late side effects can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy. Research has improved the side effects of radiation … Radiation side effects About the study What this means for you. Why is follow-up care important for managing side effects of treatment? Are there specific side effects I should tell the doctor about right away? Treatments for this category of cancers often includes either chemotherapy, radiation, or both. This can cause them to break down, after which they are then be carried away from the body. … Chest:Difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, breast or nipple soreness, shoulder stiffness 3. … What are the potential long-term effects of this type of radiation therapy? Patients filled out standard symptom reporting tools for four common side effects during their radiation treatment: pain, itchy skin, swelling and fatigue. Side effects are caused by the cumulative effect of radiation on the cells. “Short term” side effects are ones that start during or shortly after your radiation treatment. It is important to talk with your health care team about any side effects you experience so they can find ways to help you. Radiation can sometimes damage nearby lymph nodes, leading to a buildup of lymph fluid. This is called palliative care or supportive care. Below is a list of some of the more common late effects. Some side effects may be long term. The biggest difference between them is how they're delivered. Oral cryotherapy professionals from Chemo Mouthpiece™ break down the common side effects of tonsil cancer radiation therapy and how to limit them. But like other cancer treatments, it often causes side effects. These are commonly reported side effects across all the cancers. You may experience radiation therapy side effects that are specific to the type of treatment you are receiving based on the type of cancer you have. Pelvic area:Diarrhea, rectal bleeding, incontinence, or bladder irritation In addition, men and women may experi… Lowered sperm counts and reduced sperm activity. There have been major research advances in radiation therapy in recent years that have made it more precise. The Main Side Effects of Radiation Therapy. Possible side effects of radiation therapy for colon and rectal cancer can include: Skin irritation at the site where radiation beams were aimed, which can range from redness to blistering and peeling Problems with wound healing if radiation was given before surgery Find out why doctors recommend it, what it involves, and what side effects it can cause. Fatigue is a term used to describe feeling tired or exhausted almost all the time. Side effects vary from person to person, even when given the same type of treatment. Early and late side effects may include any of the following: Fatigue or loss of energy Pain in the area of the body that is being treated This has reduced this treatment's side effects, compared to radiation therapy techniques used in the past. Typically, these side effects start within days or weeks of radiation therapy. If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. Unfortunately, this damage isn't isolated to cancer cells alone, and normal cells can be damaged as well. Like many types of cancer treatment, radiation therapy can cause side effects and have a profound impact on patients. Always tell your health care team when side effects first appear, worsen, or continue despite treatment. The most common side effects are Skin irritation … Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation treatment usually recover within a few months after treatment is over. According to the American Cancer Society, other common side effects and coping strategies that can be taken include: 1. Doctors will often use external radiation therapy for prostate cancer … Physicians did not recognize side effects from radiation therapy in more than half of breast cancer patients who reported a significant symptom, a new … Your health care team can help you prevent or relieve many side effects. Side Effects Vary with Type of Cancer Bombarding cancer cells with radiation will cause damage to the cancer cells’ DNA. What physical side effects are likely based on my specific radiation therapy treatment plan? Radiation therapy is one of the treatment options that is recommended for lung cancer. 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. Sometimes combined with chemotherapy, sometimes used on its own, and even sometimes with a mixture of other traditional treatments, surgery, and drugs.There are several hidden side effects … Not everyone experiences side effects of radiation. After radiation therapy is completed, what will my follow-up care plan be? Each person experiences different side effects. The most common side effects are Skin irritation at the site where the radiation was given. This can occur from radiation therapy to the testicles (testes) or prostate gland. The radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells in the area that is radiated. 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.Or you can call 13 11 20 to learn more.. Ask whether there are any restrictions on your regular exercise schedule or other physical activities. This article would give you some information on the short-term and long-term side effects. Possible side effects of radiation therapy for colon and rectal cancer can include: Skin irritation at the site where radiation beams were aimed, which can range from redness to blistering and peeling Problems with wound healing … Your level of fatigue often depends on your treatment plan. Long-term side effects. A study of breast cancer patients treated with radiation found that it was common for treatment side effects such as pain, itchy skin, swelling and fatigue to go unrecognized. Here are 5 side effects you must know about. Skin issues. In general, radiotherapy can cause skin damage and fatigue. See the section on Late Effects to learn more. If skin damage becomes a serious problem, your doctor may change your treatment plan. Most side effects are temporary, can be controlled and generally disappear over time once treatment has ended.Some side effects may develop later. All rights reserved worldwide, managing eating challenges from head and neck treatments, When to Call the Doctor During Cancer Treatment, ways to take care of yourself during the treatment. Both chemo and radiation can have side effects… You may have even forgotten about your cancer therapy after so long, but some problems can jump in from nowhere leading to certain health issues. Radiation therapy aimed at the pelvis may cause these side effects: Incontinence, which is when a person is not able to control his or her bladder, Sexual problems for men, such as erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to get or maintain an erection. Radiation fibrosis, which causes permanent lung scars from untreated radiation pneumonitis. The radiation oncologist knows how to lower the risk of fibrosis. These are called late effects. Stomach and abdomen:Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea 4. 1. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about a specific late effect.Problems from surgery. 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. Rare short-term side effects Nausea and hair loss. The side effects of external beam radiation therapy tend to be less severe than the side effects of other prostate cancer treatments. Trusted, compassionate information for people with cancer and their families and caregivers, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world’s cancer physicians and oncology professionals. Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include: Skin changes. Though this therapy is quite effective, it could be accompanied by side effects that can range from mild to severe. It can affect your ability to have children. When will they likely begin? Chemotherapy and radiation are two of the most effective treatments for cancer. Talk with your treatment team about what to expect. Head and neck cancer includes cancer from the throat up. After treatment is completed, the body will begin to heal this damage, and with the possible exception of salivary function, things will return to normal. However, you may lose some hair under your arm or on the breast or chest area getting radiation (this may be a concern for some men with breast cancer). Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling. Side Effects of Cancer Treatment - National Cancer Institute Fatigue. To see which side effects you might expect, find the part of your body being treated in the following chart. This happens between 2 weeks and 6 months after radiation therapy. Making changes to your diet may also reduce symptoms. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins. Radiation patients often report skin issues such as peeling or blistering skin, as well as … Could this treatment affect my sex life? The side effects will vary depending on the type of chemo drugs or radiation treatment you get. Our syndication services page shows you how. But sometimes people may have side effects that do not improve. This table lists some common side effects of radiation therapy but you are unlikely to experience all of them. 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