Side effect of radiation therapy and ways to manage them
If you experience side effects from your radiation therapy, please tell your care team. Sometimes, the side effects go away when your treatment is finished. If not, we can provide prescription medications or other suggestions to help you manage side effects.
When your treatment begins, you may not notice any changes. But over time, you may start to notice side effects such as:
Reddened or darkened skin
The skin over your breast or chest area may darken or redden, like a sunburn. A nurse will show you how to take care of your skin to avoid any blistering or peeling.
This reaction may last up to 2 to 3 weeks after your treatment is over. Continue the special care for your skin for about 4 to 6 weeks. Your nurse will schedule a follow-up visit to check on your recovery.
You may feel more tired by the end of treatment. We encourage you to rest and get enough sleep so that your body can heal.
You may continue to feel tired even after you finish treatment. Be sure to give yourself enough time to recover. Your nurse will schedule a follow-up visit to check on your recovery.
If you have had surgery and radiation to the lymph nodes, you may experience swelling near the treatment site. If you experience any change, ask your care team to refer you for lymphedema massage therapy.
Long-term side effects
The long-term side effects of radiation therapy are mostly related to the effect that radiation can have on normal body tissues. Examples include:
- Your neck muscles may feel tight, and your range of motion might decrease.
Ask your care team for stretching exercises you can do during treatment and after it is complete. Stretching can keep these muscles from getting too tight.
Published April 2018
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