Early and late effects of radiation therapy The most common early side effects are fatigue (feeling tired) and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.
Most side effects generally go away within a few weeks to 2 months of finishing treatment . But some side effects may continue after treatment is over because it takes time for healthy cells to recover from the effects of radiation therapy . Late side effects can happen months or years after treatment .
Radiation not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells can cause side effects . Many people who get radiation therapy have fatigue. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out.
Foods to avoid or reduce during radiation therapy include sodium (salt), added sugars, solid (saturated) fats, and an excess of alcohol. Some salt is needed in all diets.
Cancer survivors tend to have shorter telomeres than normal persons at the same age. This means that they are older than their actual years. It could be the intensive and toxic chemotherapy and radiation therapy that has led to this finding say researchers.
Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die. This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body.
Radiation therapy can potentially affect your immune system , especially if a significant amount of bone marrow is being irradiated because of its role in creating white blood cells. However, this doesn’t typically suppress the immune system enough to make you more susceptible to infections.
For tumors that divide slowly, the mass may shrink over a long, extended period after radiation stops. The median time for a prostate cancer to shrink is about 18 months (some quicker, some slower).
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of radiation therapy . Radiation therapy usually does not have an immediate effect, and it could take days, weeks or months to see any change in the cancer. The cancer cells may then keep dying for weeks or months after the end of treatment .
The initial signs and symptoms of treatable radiation sickness are usually nausea and vomiting . The amount of time between exposure and when these symptoms develop is a clue to how much radiation a person has absorbed.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause long-term side effects to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. These include: Hearing loss from high doses of chemotherapy, especially drugs like cisplatin (multiple brand names) Increased risk of stroke from high doses of radiation to the brain.
Nausea and vomiting can occur after radiation therapy to the stomach, small intestine, colon or parts of the brain. Your risk for nausea and vomiting depends on how much radiation you are getting, how much of your body is in the treatment area, and whether you are also having chemotherapy.
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 .
Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing and undergarments in the area being treated. Avoid tight clothing that will rub up against your skin, including underwire bras for women. Use only the moisturizers, creams, or lotions that you have discussed with your radiation oncologist or nurse.
Doctors have known for a long time that radiation can cause cancer. And research has shown that radiation treatment for one cancer can raise the risk for developing a different cancer later. Factors that can affect that risk include the amount of radiation used and the area that was treated.