What are the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer?

Specific side effects of radiation therapy affecting parts of the bodyHeadache, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness (fatigue), hearing loss, skin and scalp changes, memory and speech problems. Read more tips to help combat tiredness.

What are the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer?

Specific side effects of radiation therapy affecting parts of the bodyHeadache, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness (fatigue), hearing loss, skin and scalp changes, memory and speech problems. Read more tips to help combat tiredness. Hair loss is a common side effect of radiation therapy. But unlike hair loss during chemotherapy, it only causes hair loss in the area being treated.

Occasionally, hair loss can be permanent if you receive a high dose of radiation therapy. Ask your doctor if this is a risk before starting treatment. Talk to your care team if you find it difficult to cope with hair loss. Read tips on cancer and hair loss.

You should stop feeling sick soon after your treatment ends. Feeling dizzy and tired during radiation therapy can cause you to lose your appetite, which could lead to weight loss. Diarrhea is a common side effect of radiation therapy in the abdominal or pelvic area. Tell your care team if you have diarrhea.

Medications are available to help relieve it. Diarrhea should go away within a few weeks of stopping treatment. Tell your doctor if your symptoms haven't improved after a few weeks or if you notice blood in your stool. The treated breast may also be rough to the touch, red (like a sunburn), swollen, and itchy.

Sometimes, the skin can peel off, as if it had been burned by The doctor may suggest special creams to relieve this discomfort. With any standard radiation therapy, you won't be radioactive when you leave the radiation treatment center. External-beam radiation therapy is usually done with a linear accelerator, a machine that directs beams of high-energy radiation into the body. There are several things you can do to help reduce skin sensitivity during radiation treatment and also to help the skin heal after completing radiation treatment.

Before you undergo external-beam radiation therapy, your healthcare team guides you through a planning process to ensure that the radiation reaches the precise point in your body where it's needed. During a different type of radiation treatment called brachytherapy (brachytherapy), radiation is applied inside the body. During external beam radiation therapy, you are placed on a table and a large machine moves around you sending beams of radiation to precise points on your body. After the planning process, the radiation therapy team decides what type of radiation and what dose you will receive based on the type and stage of your cancer, your general health, and treatment goals.

Your fatigue from cancer and radiation therapy is different from other times when you may have felt tired. For example, in rare circumstances, a new cancer (second primary cancer) may develop that is different from the first one treated with radiation years later.