Radiation Therapy can cause a range of side effects, including:
Hair Loss: also called Alopecia, is the thinning or loss of hair during Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. Such hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, arms, legs, and pelvis, but it is usually only temporary. A patient’s hair normally grows back after the treatment is complete.
Nausea Or Vomiting: Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy can cause nausea or vomiting, but these side-effects can be counteracted with other drugs called antiemetics.
Fatigue: is a common side effect of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. Fatigue normally goes away after the treatment is completed, but it can take weeks or months until it is completely gone.
Loss Of Appetite And Taste: while undergoing Radiation Therapy, a patient may experience a loss of appetite or find that their favorite foods are no longer appealing. However, eating well will help your body heal and help maintain your energy levels. Eating 4-5 small meals a day may be better than eating 2-3 larger ones.
Throat Irritation: If a patient undergoes Radiation Therapy to the neck, throat, or chest, then they may experience sore throat, nausea, or cough and they may have difficulty eating and swallowing, especially toward the end of the treatment program.
Dry Mouth: also called Xerostomia, is a result of decreased in saliva production during Radiation Therapy. Saliva helps prevent cavities in teeth, so it is often advisable to see a dentist before beginning Radiation Therapy treatment in order to receive fluoride treatments to help protect your teeth during the therapy.
Skin Reactions: Radiation can cause a slight to moderate reddening of the skin and is often accompanied by discomfort, itching and flaking. Moist areas such as the areas around the mouth may be more prone to irritation (your doctor may recommend zinc oxide ointment for these areas). These skin changes usually diminish and disappear over a few weeks. Your skin could look and feel as if it is sunburned, and it may eventually peel.
Many of these side-effects are temporary and they typically disappear after the treatment is completed. However, some may continue for weeks or months. Various treatments are available to help patients deal with these side effects. Discuss any side-effects you experience with your doctor so that the best treatment options can be organized.