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Effects of radiation therapy. What are they?

Most cancer patients go through the procedure of radiation therapy. Its main goal is to destroy cancer cells, to suppress their ability to reproduce. Despite the fact that the methodology of radiation over the last decade, has improved considerably, nevertheless the healthy tissue located near the tumor, suffer. This method cannot be called absolutely safe for health. However, its effect in reducing and destroying tumors in the majority of cases covers negative effects.

What could be the effects of radiation therapy?

The effects of radiation depend on the species, the depth of penetration in tissue, individual reactions. The stronger and longer the exposure, the more noticeable will be the reaction of the body. Most often complications occur in patients who are long-term treatment. Not always side effects of radiation therapy are severe, some patients tolerate this treatment quite easily. In some cases, the effects developed immediately after the session, others only after discharge from the hospital, because the medical effect is realized after completion of radiation therapy.

Complications after radiation therapy:

  • Skin reactions
  • Pain, swelling of the tissues in the affected area,
  • Shortness of breath and cough,
  • Reaction from mucous membranes,
  • Fatigue,
  • Mood disorders and sleep,
  • Nausea, vomiting, disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract,
  • Hair loss.

Often have skin reactions

After exposure, the skin loses resistance to mechanical stress, becoming more delicate and sensitive, requires more careful treatment and nursing care.

The skin in the irradiated area changes color, in this place there is discomfort, burning, pain. The skin response to radiation is similar to a sunburn, but it develops gradually. The skin becomes more dry and sensitive to touch. The formation of blisters that breaks, exposing the moist painful area of the skin. In the absence of treatment and proper care such areas of the skin become gateways for infection. These places may form ulcers. Non-healing ulcers after radiotherapy develop in severe cases when the patients have particularly sensitive skin, lowered immunity or they have diabetes.

As a rule, skin reactions occur 10-15 days after the beginning of treatment and disappear after 4-5 weeks after treatments.


The degree of damage to the skin the result of radiation therapy:

  • 1 slight redness,
  • 2 the degree of redness, accompanied by peeling or swelling,
  • 3 degree extensive redness with a damp peeling and severe swelling.

Treatment of burns after radiation therapy depends on the extent of damage to the skin. At the first degree it is sufficient to maintain the daily hygiene of the skin and apply moisturizer after radiation treatments. On the second and third stages when the itch can be assigned to a cream that contains corticosteroids, which will significantly improve the skin condition. However, its use should be limited in time (maximum 7 days). To prevent infection in the wound on her bandage. If there are signs of infection, you should apply a bandage with antibacterial active silver ions or iodine.

Signs of an infection radiation wounds:

  • Increased pain,
  • Sudden swelling,
  • Increased redness,
  • Increasing the amount of fluid in the wound,
  • Odor.

High temperature after radiotherapy may be due to the penetration of infection into the wound. In this case, it is necessary to conduct additional tests to establish the nature of the infection.

Reactionsthe respiratory system

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, cough after radiation therapy develop when exposure is performed on the chest area, for example, in cancer of the breast. Radiation injury of the lung occur within three months after exposure. As a rule, the cough is unproductive (i.e. no relief). If associated infection, the possible increase of temperature and deterioration of the General condition. The treatment of radiation injuries of the lungs is limited in several ways:

  • Electro - and phonophoresis,
  • Magnetotherapy,
  • Inhalation therapy,
  • Massage,
  • Breathing exercises.

In each case, methods are selected individually taking into account the nature of the changes in the respiratory system and the nature of the tumor, about which the irradiation.

Damage to mucous membranes

Upon extensive irradiation of the abdomen and pelvis may suffer mucous membrane of the colon, stomach, bladder. In this respect, worsens the work of these bodies. The irradiation of otolaryngology can lead to stomatitis, dryness and sore throat, pain in this area.


Many cancer patients report such side effect of radiation therapy as fatigue. It is quite an unpleasant condition. The fact that it does not disappear after sleep or rest. The patient the feeling that he lacks energy. All this is happening not only because of the effects of radiation on the body, but also because of the emotional experiences and changes in lifestyle and nutrition.

In order to alleviate the condition, at least a little to reduce the feeling of fatigue you should try to observe a mode, to sleep a sufficient amount of time to do as much exercise. It is not necessary to perform hard work. You might want to ask for help and support friends or loved ones.

Recovery after treatment

How to recover after radiation therapy? This question is asked by almost all patients. Upon completion of the course of treatment of the body after some time in recovery, establishes the bodies that were affected. If to help him, then the recovery period will be faster.

Simple tips for rehabilitation

Usually after a course of radiation therapy prescribed a special medication. Strictly follow all doctor's recommendations, take medications suggested by the doctor scheme.

doktorEven if all the time you want to lie down, force yourself to move, don't let your body stagnate. The movement will give courage. Suitable light simple exercise, walking. More time need to be outdoors.

The liquid will help the body get rid of toxins and harmful substances, formed as a result of treatment. You should drink about 3 liters of fluid. It can be simple or mineral water and juices. Carbonated beverages should be excluded.

To the body as possible was received of toxins, refrain from Smoking and drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol in small doses (usually red wine) can only be shown in some cases. Then he recommended doctor.

Proper nutrition will help the body will "recover". Food should be natural, without preservatives and artificial additives. No smoked meats, pickles should not be included in the diet. More vegetables and herbs.
Avoid being in the sun.

Wear loose clothing made of soft fabrics to not rubbed the spot of irradiation.

Regularly show your doctor. Be sure to inform him about the cases when something has changed in the health, began to feel the pain or fever.

The treatment of cancer for many patients is a real challenge due to serious side effects. Howeverthe day comes when the person feels relief. He understands that the disease is receding and life is getting better.