Sunday, March 3, 2024

Chemo Vs Radiation Side Effects

Hypofractionated Vs Traditional Radiation Therapy

Radiation Treatment vs. Chemotherapy

In March 2018, the American Society for Radiation Oncology released updated guidelines on whole-breast radiation therapy saying that most people diagnosed with breast cancer should be treated with a hypofractionated radiation schedule.

In many cases, people diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer have radiation therapy after surgery to remove the cancer. Radiation therapy lowers the risk of the cancer coming back .

Whole-breast radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery is usually given as one treatment per day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 7 weeks. A Gray is the way radiation oncologists measure the dose of radiation therapy if youre on a 5-week treatment schedule, 50 Gy is the usual amount given during the 5 weeks . A supplemental boost dose may be included at the end of the regimen that targets the area where the cancer was.

Radiation treatment schedules were developed based on research results. But a 5- to 7-week nearly daily commitment may be difficult for some people, especially if they live far away from a treatment center. So doctors developed and studied different radiation therapy schedules that involve fewer treatments with higher doses of radiation at each treatment, but about the same total radiation dose. These hypofractionated radiation schedules put the same radiation dose into a 3- to 5-week schedule, instead of a 5- to 7-week schedule.

What Are Common Side Effects Of Chemo And Radiation

Chemo and radiation cause similar side effects. Chemo is a general term for a wide variety of medicines used to treat cancer. Chemo’s side effects depend on the type of drug used, the dosage, and a child’s overall health. These effects are more likely to affect the whole body.

Radiation’s side effects tend to affect the area being treated. But they do still depend on the dose of radiation given, the location on the body, and whether the radiation was internal or external.

Here are some of the side effects associated with these cancer treatments, and how to manage them:


Tiredness is the most common side effect of both chemotherapy and radiation. Even the most active kids are likely to find themselves exhausted and perhaps even a little “foggy-headed” during treatment and possibly for a while afterward. This is normal. Encourage your child to scale back on activities and to rest as much as possible. When treatment is over, your child’s energy should return.


Some chemo drugs cause headaches, muscle pains, stomach pains, or even temporary nerve damage that can result in burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet. If this happens, your doctor can prescribe medicines that can help. Never use over-the-counter or herbal medicines without your doctor’s OK, though, as these can interact with the chemo drugs.

Mouth, Gum, and Throat Sores

Gastrointestinal Problems

Skin Changes

Weight Changes

Hair Loss

Kidney and Bladder Problems


Blood Clotting Problems

How Is Radiation Therapy Given

The type of radiation most often used to treat pancreatic cancer focuses radiation from a source outside of the body on the cancer.

Getting radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is stronger. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time getting you into place for treatment usually takes longer. Most often, radiation treatments are given 5 days a week for several weeks.

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The Oncology Roller Coaster

In most cases, once your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, hes referred to an oncologist.

From this point on, for you as the owner its as if any decision-making ability you might have had has been removed.

The oncologist now calls the shots. Your dog is on the medico-veterinary roller coaster the medical merry-go-round.

And in far too many instances, that ride is one of unimaginable horror.

You watch on as your beloved family member is taken from a life filled with innocence and joy to one of relentless torture.

Under the skilled guidance of the cancer professional, your helpless dog is poisoned by chemotherapy and/or burnt by radiotherapy until death ensues.

A slow death, where your dog with his immune system destroyed and all will to live taken away by nausea and pain becomes a walking skeleton. Until finally, death is the only option the inevitable outcome.

Does Radiation Therapy Hurt

Side effects of radiation for breast cancer: What to know

External radiation therapy won’t hurt. You won’t see or smell the radiation, however you may hear a buzzing sound when the machine is on. You will NOT be radioactive. It is safe to be in contact with other people, including pregnant women and children, when you are having treatment and afterwards.

During internal radiation therapy you may experience a little discomfort from the implant, however you should not have any severe pain or feel ill. While your radioactive implant is in place, it may send some radiation outside your body. There will be limits on visitors while your implant is in place.

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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain

People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.

If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.

Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:

  • Trouble with memory and speech

Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.

Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.

Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.

How Will I Know The Treatment Has Worked

After treatment finishes, you will have regular check-ups with your doctor. You will have a physical examination, and you may have scans or tests to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment. It may take some time after your radiation therapy treatment has finished before the full benefit is known.

Your medical team won’t be able to give you progress updates during treatment because cancer cells continue to die for weeks or months after treatment ends. They can, however, help you manage any side effects.

If radiation therapy is given as palliative treatment, the relief of symptoms will indicate that the treatment has worked. This may take a few days or weeks.

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Mouth And Throat Changes

Radiation therapy to the head and neck can cause mouth changes. Radiation not only kills cancer cells but can also harm healthy cells in the glands that make saliva and the moist lining of your mouth. You may have:

  • Loss/change in taste
  • Thickened saliva

Some problems, like mouth sores, may go away after treatment ends. Others, such as taste changes, may last for months or even years. Some problems, such as dry mouth, may get better but never go away.

Mouth Care After Radiation

Your Throat

Radiation therapy to the neck or chest can cause the lining of your throat to become swollen and sore. Your risk for throat changes depends on how much radiation you are getting, whether you are also having chemotherapy, and whether you use tobacco and alcohol while getting radiation therapy. You may notice throat changes in 23 weeks after starting radiation. These will likely get better 46 weeks after you have finished treatment.

Nutrition During Head, Neck or Chest Radiation

How You Get Chemotherapy And Radiation

Managing chemo and radiation side effects

Both therapies typically happen over a period of weeks in regular visits to the hospital or doctorâs office. But each case is different, so talk to your doctor about the right treatment plan for you.

Your medical team will deliver your chemotherapy through one or more of these methods:

  • IV: Through a needle or a tube directly into a blood vessel
  • Oral: From a pill or capsule that you swallow
  • Injection: Through a needle into the skin or muscle

Your medical team will deliver your radiation therapy through one or more of these methods:

  • External radiation: A machine outside the body shoots invisible high-energy beams into the tumor.
  • Internal radiation: This is sometimes called âbrachytherapy.â Doctors place a radioactive object inside your body close to the tumor. They might leave it in to do its work or they may take it out soon afterward.
  • Systemic radiation: Though less common, your doctor might suggest using radiation as a systemic treatment that works throughout the body. That means you get it from a pill you swallow or through a needle or port into one of your veins.

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For Cancer That Has Spread

Your doctor might suggest chemotherapy if there is a chance that your cancer might spread in the future. Or if it has already spread.

Sometimes cancer cells break away from a tumour. They may travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

The cells may settle in other parts of the body and develop into new tumours. These are called secondary cancers or metastases. The drugs circulate in the bloodstream around the body to treat any cancer cells that have spread.

When Is One Therapy Better Than The Other

Sometimes, one of these treatments can be more effective than the other in treating a particular type of cancer. Other times, chemo and radiation can actually complement each other and be given together.

When you meet with your cancer care team, your oncologist will give you the options that will be most effective in treating your type of cancer.

Together with your cancer care team, you can decide on the treatment option thats right for you.

Chemo and radiation are sometimes used together to treat certain types of cancers. This is called concurrent therapy. This may be recommended if your cancer:

  • cannot be removed with surgery
  • is likely to spread to other areas of your body
  • isnt responding to one particular type of treatment

With both chemotherapy and radiation, theres a high likelihood of experiencing some side effects. But that doesnt mean you cant do anything about them.

Here are some tips to cope with the

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What Do I Need To Know About Side Effects

  • Every person doesnt get every side effect, and some people get few, if any.
  • The severity of side effects varies greatly from person to person. Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your chemo, how long they might last, how bad they might be, and when you should call the doctors office about them.
  • Your doctor may give you medicines to help prevent certain side effects before they happen.
  • Some chemo drugs cause long-term side effects, like heart or nerve damage or fertility problems. Still, many people have no long-term problems from chemo. Ask your doctor if the chemo drugs youre getting have long-term effects.

While side effects can be unpleasant, they must be weighed against the need to kill the cancer cells.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about which side effects are most common with your chemo, how long they might last, how bad they might be, and when you should call the doctors office about them.

Will Radiation Treatment Make Me Radioactive

Side effects of radiation for breast cancer: What to know

For external radiation treatment, you will not be radioactive.

It is safe to be with your children, family/whnau and friends throughout the treatment and afterwards.

For internal radiation treatment, where a radioactive source is put inside your body, you will need to take extra care.

If the source is temporary, you will only be radioactive when it is in your body. This is all done in the hospital.

If the source is not removed or permanent, you will be radioactive for a short time.

People won’t be able to see you’re radioactive. It is important to follow your treatment team’s safety instructions.

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Will I Be Able To Work During Radiation Therapy

Some people can continue to work during radiation therapy treatment, while others may need to reduce their hours or take time off. How much you are able to work depends on the type of radiation therapy you have, how the treatment makes you feel and the type of work you do. Your treatment team will encourage you to be as active as possible, and they can answer your questions about working during treatment.

Increased Risk Of Infection

White blood cells can be lowered as a result of treatment. WBCs called neutrophils help fight infections. When neutrophils are low, this is called neutropenia and results in an increased risk of serious infection. Kids with cancer, especially those with neutropenia, have compromised immune systems and are not able to fight off bacteria and germs. A seasonal cold or virus that may not cause many symptoms in a healthy person can result in severe illness in a child receiving chemotherapy. Any fever can be a sign of serious infection and should be brought to the doctors attention immediately.

Some other signs of infection include:

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About Upmc Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.


Your Guide To Relief From Chemo And Radiation Side Effects

What Are Side Effects of Chemotherapy And Radiation..? | V6 News

When I set out to create this resource, I knew it had to be in-depth and cover as many side effects as possible. And now Im thrilled to say that it covers 13 of the most common radiation and chemotherapy side effects:

  • Skin irritation

Youll find a variety of helpful tips for relief from each of these chemo and radiation side effects in the toolkit. I hope they help you and your loved ones navigate treatment with a little more ease.

Ive also included recipes for three delicious green drinks packed with cancer-fighting nutrients, healthy calories to boost your energy and help maintain a healthy weight , and lots of other healing goodies.

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Nursing Allied Health And Interprofessional Team Interventions

Nursing interventions and patient education play an essential role in reducing the side effects of radiotherapy. Specific strategies that can be useful include:

  • Identification of patients at risk of complications and initiation of appropriate therapy .
  • Oral hygiene instruction for all patients receiving head and neck irradiation. Consultation with a dentist and treatment of periodontal disease before radiotherapy can minimize the risk of jaw osteoradionecrosis. Use of bland rinses, cryotherapy, mucosal protective agents, antiseptic mouthwashes, topical analgesics, and anti-inflammatory agents or growth factors as necessary. Regular assessment and monitoring of high-risk patients can reduce long-term sequela in these patients and improve the overall quality of life. Dietary modifications that alleviate symptoms include avoiding spicy or acidic foods, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, alcohol-containing mouthwashes, and sharp foods .
  • Nutritional assessment and dietary consult can improve the healing of damaged tissues. It is especially important in patients with cancer cachexia compounded by radiotherapy-associated fatigue, loss of appetite, alterations in taste sensations, and mucositis.
  • Wound care interventions for skin ulcers with hydrocolloid dressings and regular cleaning and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for refractory cases.
  • Vaginitis douches with dilute hydrogen peroxide use for cleaning and prevention of infection following pelvic irradiation.
  • Which Is Harder On The Body: Chemo Or Radiation

    It is difficult to say what cancer therapy will be more difficult for your body to handle. Different types and dosages of both chemotherapy and radiation will have different effects.

    These effects also differ by the person getting them. So, for example, someone on one treatment might have extreme nausea, while another might have extreme tiredness.

    A systemic treatment like chemotherapy or liquid radiation may have more off-target side effects than a local treatment. But local treatments that are administered only to the cancer site, like external beam radiation or solid internal radiation treatment, may have more extreme side effects in that area of the body.

    Ask your doctor about what treatment options apply to you and how they could adjust these treatments or care for your symptoms if you have side effects.

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    Problems Eating And Drinking

    • reduced sense of taste

    Tell your care team if you have any of these problems. They may recommend painkillers or a special mouthwash that can help. Avoiding spicy, salty or sharp foods can also help.

    Mucositis usually gets better a few weeks after treatment finishes, although sometimes a dry mouth can be a long-term problem.

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