Managing your side effects
Every person’s body responds to radiation therapy in its own way. You may have no side effects or only a few mild ones. You also may have more serious side effects. The side effects usually depend on the treatment dose and the part of your body that is being treated. Some of the side effects you may experience include:
- Hair loss - Radiation therapy may cause hair loss in the area being treated. For example, if your hip is being treated you will not lose hair on your head. However, radiation therapy to your head may cause you to lose some or all of your hair. Hair may or may not come back.
- Dry mouth – You may notice that your mouth becomes dry or taste changes if you are having radiation treatments to your neck area. If you are receiving radiation therapy to your mouth, it is important to take good care of your teeth. Regular dental care will be needed.
- Skin reactions – You may notice skin changes in the area being treated such as redness, dryness, hair loss, itching or blistering. For more information on how to best care for your skin during treatment, please click here.
- Sore Throat – If your treatments are to the head and neck area you may get a sore throat or have trouble swallowing. If you notice these problems, drink lots of fluids and eat soft or liquid foods. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine to help you with your sore throat.
- Nausea – You may have nausea or vomiting if your colon, chest, stomach or brain is being treated. It may begin 1 to 2 hours after a treatment and last 4 to 6 hours. You may notice less nausea and vomiting when not having treatments. Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help relieve your nausea. For more information about proper nutrition during and after treatment, please click here.
- Diarrhea – You may have diarrhea if your lower stomach or pelvis is being treated. You may begin noticing diarrhea a few weeks after your treatments. If you have diarrhea, you should be sure to drinks lots of fluids. Imodium AD is recommended if you experience diarrhea, or talk to your doctor or nurse. For more information about proper nutrition during and after treatment, please click here.
- Fatigue – Fatigue or tiredness may start 2 to 3 weeks after treatments begin and may last 2 to 3 weeks or even months after the treatments are completed. The larger the area being treated or the larger the dose of radiation, the more likely a person is to be tired. For more information on dealing with fatigue during and after treatment, please click here.
If you need further support, we are here for you. We know that cancer care is much more than just your treatment. As our patient, you have access to comprehensive – and individualized – wellness and support resources from diagnosis all the way through to survivorship. Click here to find out more.