Common Side Effects of Radiation Treatment
Side effects will vary from patient to patient, so it is important to keep an open line of communication with your team at Rosetta Radiology if you have concerns. Don't be afraid to ask if something is abnormal, you know your body better than anyone else. To learn about some of the more common side effects of radiation oncology treatment, see the list below.
Cystitis: inflammation of the bladder causing uncomfortable urination, blood in the urine, frequent urination, urinary urgency and fever. This can be a side effect with abdominal or pelvic radiation.
Diarrhea: Certain antibiotics, chemotherapies and radiation to the abdominal and pelvic areas may cause diarrhea.
Fatigue: Treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, biotherapy and surgery can cause fatigue which can also be linked to stress and depression.
Hair Loss: This is a commonly assumed side effect of cancer treatment but is most commonly linked with chemotherapy, but can also be a result of some radiation. Be sure to ask your physician about whether your treatment plan could result in partial or complete hair loss.
Low Blood Count: Chemotherapy, radiation and some cancers that involve bone marrow (leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma) may lower the levels of blood cells.
Mucositis: This side effects includes mouth sores, increases in saliva, swollen tissues/tongue or white/yellowish film on areas of your mouth. Radiation therapy only causes damage to the area of mucous membranes being treated, so this is not a concern if you are not receiving treatment on your head/neck region. Also, keep in mind that IMRT enables us to better target concentrated areas.
Nausea and Vomiting: If you are receiving radiation treatment in the chest or abdominal area, your doctor could prescribe a prescription to eliminate these symptoms.
Skin Problems: Sometimes radiation patients might experience some slight irritation to redness, dryness and peeling. There are things to do to avoid additional irritation including; wearing looser clothes, using vitamin E lotion, and avoiding sun, starch, hot/cold packs, shaving and deodorant products.
Weight loss: Please see our nutrition advice above.
Don't be intimidated by this list, as we said before, every patient is different. Feel free to ask your physician to explain any of the above side effects and discuss the likelihood of these arising during your treatment.