Radiotherapy is one of the major tools of cancer treatment. It is now used more than surgical oncology for cancer tumours. Radiotherapy possesses some dangers and side effects but the benefits and usability of radiation therapy are far more significant than its side effects. Furthermore the side effects of radiotherapy can be managed to make their consequences less severe.
Factors that affect the type and severity of side effects
- v Not all forms of cancer are treated with the same radiation technique; therefore the side effects caused by radiation therapy will be strongly dependent on the method that is opted to destroy the cancer cells. For instance, internal radiation therapy will cause lesser damage to normal tissues than an external-beam radiation therapy.
- v Side effects of radiation therapy also depend on the part of the body where the cancer tumour is located. If the tumour is located in a place where a significant area of the body is exposed against the radiations, then the patient might feel strong side effects.
- v One obvious factor that decides the intensity and duration of side effects is the dose of radiation that a patient receives. A dosage of radiation depends upon the size of the tumour.
- v It is a general occurrence that people who get the same radiation therapy experience different side effects. The reason, behind this, is that every patient has a different state of general heath. The state of health defines the radiation the patient is going to get.
Different Side Effects & its management
Physical fatigue is one of the most common side effects of radiation therapy. Your body gets exhausted when it spends substantial energy in lessening the effects of radiations on normal cells and tissues. The symptoms of fatigue usually appear at the end of the treatment.
Try to limit your normal daily routine if you are feeling tired and fatigued. Light physical exercises can also help you in maintaining the energy levels of your body. Don’t skip any meal and make sure that you are eating healthy, also limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks because they have adverse effects on a fatigued body.
Loss of appetite
Loss of appetite might not be experienced by every cancer patient that undergoes radiation therapy as patients who are getting treatment to the neck and head are more prone to this side effect.
Distribute your meals in small portion sizes to complete your daily calorie requirements. You can consult a dietician to give you suitable advice on the foods that can be consumed when one has a lost appetite.
No matter how safe radiotherapy process is, the external beam radiotherapy affects the skin of that part of body which get exposed to the radiation beams. Patient can get the feeling of itchiness, and in some cases skin may peel-off and the affected area may look sunburnt.
Avoid wearing tight fittings and choose the soft fabric options for your clothing. Hide your affected area from sunlight and use prescribed ointments to treat the affected skin. Don’t use public spas, saunas and swimming pools during that time period.
By taking better care of your body and health you can manage the side effects of radiotherapy effectively.