1. What is radiation?
Radiation is a treatment used to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Radiation therapy uses high- energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells. It is one of the most common forms of treatment and is administered locally to a particular area, unlike chemotherapy, which affects the whole body. It is used for cancers such as head and neck, stomach, breast, pelvic, and lung cancers.
2. What are the common side effects of radiation?
The most common side effects associated with radiation therapy are skin changes, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
3. How does radiation therapy affect your skin?
During radiation, skin in the treatment area may become red, blistered, irritated, sunburned, and swollen. After a few weeks of radiation, it may cause your skin to become dry, itchy, and scab.
4. What can I do to improve my skin changes?
5. What can I do for long-term care following radiation therapy?
Your skin in the treatment area will remain sensitive and dry after your course of radiation therapy, so it still needs special care. Remember to always protect your skin from extreme heat or cold, paying special attention to the exposures to the sun. Always use a sun block with a SPF of 15 or higher. It is also important to avoid injuries to your skin that may be caused by chemicals in cleaning solutions or solvents, cuts, and scratches or tight fitting clothes.
6. Are there any additional skin care tips that will help me before, during, and after therapy?
7. What are the signs of fatigue?
8. How do other people cope with cancer treatment?
The cause of cancer-treatment related fatigue is not fully known. Problems like low blood count, sleep disruption, stress, and not eating enough, along with other factors, may contribute to fatigue.
9. When is rest not the best treatment for cancer-treatment related fatigue?
You may be advised to “take it easy” and “get plenty of rest”. Sometimes staying in bed over a long period of time can slow your body down and cause you to feel even more tired.
10. What can family or significant others do to help you with cancer treatment related fatigue?
Do not push yourself to do more than you can do. Ask your family member or friends to help you with tasks you find difficult or taxing, like mowing the lawn or grocery shopping. It may be difficult for family members to understand if rest does not make your fatigue go away. Explaining that the fatigue you feel is different from the fatigue you had before treatment may help them understand.