If Youre Having Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause side effects such as:
- Bladder problems
- Fertility problems
- Changes in your sex life
You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Radiation to the pelvis can cause problems with urination, including:
- Pain or burning sensations
- Blood in the urine
- An urge to urinate often
Most of these problems get better over time, but radiation therapy can cause longer-term side effects as well:
- Radiation cystitis. If the radiation damages the lining of the bladder, radiation cystitis can be a long-term problem that causes blood in the urine or pain when passing urine.
- Urinary incontinence. Radiation treatments for certain cancers, such as prostate and bladder cancer, may make you unable to control your urine or have leakage or dribbling. There are different types and degrees of incontinence, but it can be treated. Even if incontinence cant be corrected completely, it can still be helped. See Bladder and Bowel Incontinence to learn more. This side effect is most often a problem for men being treated for prostate cancer, but some of the information might also be helpful for women dealing with treatment-related incontinence.
What Are Radiation Burn Symptoms
Radiation therapy can take place over days to several weeks, with radiation burn symptoms happening during radiation therapy or after therapy is done. Common radiation burn symptoms are:
- Reddening of white skin or darkening of skin that is black or brown.
- Itchy skin.
- Open sores that may appear where your skin is sweaty or damp, such as your armpits or under your breasts.
Will Radiation Therapy Cause My Hair To Fall Out
Only people who get radiation to the scalp or the brain may have hair loss. Others won’t. If it does happen, itâs usually sudden and comes out in clumps. In most cases, your hair will grow back after therapy stops, but it may be thinner or have a different texture.
Some people choose to cut their hair short before treatment begins to make less weight on the hair shaft. If you lose hair on top of your head, be sure to wear a hat or a scarf to protect your scalp from the sun when you go outside. If you decide to buy a wig, ask the doctor to write a prescription for one and check to see if it’s covered by your insurance or is a tax-deductible expense.
Read Also: Low Back Pain Radiating To Groin
What Are The Immediate Health Effects Of Exposure To Radiation
The health effects of radiation depend on:
- The amount of radiation absorbed by the body
- The type of radioactive material
- How the radioactive material got in or on the body
- The length of time a person was exposed
Exposure to large amounts of radiation over a short period of time can cause Acute Radiation Syndrome . If you have symptoms of ARS seek medical attention as soon as it is safe to leave your building or shelter. If you were exposed to a small amount of radiation, you will not see any health effects right away.
When Radiotherapy Is Used
Radiotherapy may be used in the early stages of cancer or after it has started to spread.
It can be used to:
- try to cure the cancer completely
- make other treatments more effective for example, it can be combined with chemotherapy or used before surgery
- reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery
- relieve symptoms if a cure is not possible
Radiotherapy is generally considered the most effective cancer treatment after surgery, but how well it works varies from person to person.
Also Check: Best Cancer Treatment Centers In The World
Determining Extent Of Nuclear Fallout
The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale is the primary form of categorizing the potential health and environmental effects of a nuclear or radiological event and communicating it to the public. The scale, which was developed in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, classifies these nuclear accidents based on the potential impact of the fallout:
- Defence-in-Depth: This is the lowest form of nuclear accidents and refers to events that have no direct impact on people or the environment but must be taken note of to improve future safety measures.
- Radiological Barriers and Control: This category refers to events that have no direct impact on people or the environment and only refer to the damage caused within major facilities.
- People and the Environment: This section of the scale consists of more serious nuclear accidents. Events in this category could potentially cause radiation to spread to people close to the location of the accident. This also includes an unplanned, widespread release of the radioactive material.
The INES scale is composed of seven steps that categorize the nuclear events, ranging from anomalies that must be recorded to improve upon safety measures to serious accidents that require immediate action.
Three Mile Island
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen
If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:
Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.
These problems should get better when treatment is over.
Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.
If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.
Recommended Reading: Do Tumors Grow Back After Radiation
What Happens During Population Monitoring
Population monitoring begins after a radiation emergency and continues until all potentially affected people have been checked for radioactive contamination and evaluated for health effects from radiation exposure. Population monitoring includes long-term tracking and medical follow-up for people who were exposed to high levels of radiation or contaminated with radioactive material. Population monitoring could go on for many years after the emergency.
Urinary And Bladder Changes
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause urinary and bladder problems by irritating the healthy cells of the bladder wall and urinary tract. These changes may start 35 weeks after radiation therapy begins. Most problems go away 28 weeks after treatment is over. You may experience:
- Burning or pain when you begin to urinate or after you urinate
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Bladder spasms, which are like painful muscle cramps
Ways to manage include:
- Drink lots of fluids. Aim for 68 cups of fluids each day, or enough that your urine is clear to light yellow in color.
- Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, spices and all tobacco products.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you think you have urinary or bladder problems. You may need to provide a urine sample to check for infection.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have incontinence. He/she may refer you to a physical therapist to assess your problem. The therapist may recommend exercises to help you improve your bladder control.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you urinate, reduce burning or pain, and ease bladder spasms.
Recommended Reading: Does Radiation Make You Lose Weight
During Your Radiation Treatments
Your radiation therapists will bring you to the treatment room and help you lie on the treatment table . Youll be positioned exactly how you were during your simulation and set-up procedure. Your radiation therapists will do everything they can to make sure youre comfortable. Then, theyll leave the room, close the door, and start your treatment.
Figure 2. An example of a radiation treatment machine
Breathe normally during your treatment, but dont move. You wont see or feel the radiation, but you may hear the machine as it moves around you and is turned on and off. Your radiation therapists will be able to see you on a monitor and talk with you through an intercom during your whole treatment. Tell them if youre uncomfortable or need help.
Youll be in the treatment room for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your treatment plan. Most of this time will be spent putting you in the correct position. The actual treatment only takes a few minutes.
Your radiation treatment wont make you or your clothes radioactive. Its safe for you to be around other people.
Does The Radiation Stay In Your Body
The radiation remains in the body from a few minutes to a few days. Most people receive radiation therapy for only a few minutes. Sometimes people receive internal radiation therapy for longer. If so, they stay in a private room to limit other peoples exposure to radiation.
What are the long term side effects of radiation?
What are the most common long-term side effects of radiation?
- Hair loss.
- Hearing loss.
- Memory loss It is difficult to determine how much memory loss or cognitive dysfunction is related to a tumor and how much is related to radiation therapy, says Dr. Nowlan.
Also Check: Headwear For Chemo Hair Loss
What Does It Mean To Shelter
Sheltering-in-place means to get inside a building and stay there. In a radiation emergency, such as a nuclear power plant accident, a nuclear detonation, or the explosion of a dirty bomb you may be asked to get inside a building and take shelter for a period of time instead of leaving. The walls of a building can block much of the harmful radiation. Because radioactive materials become weaker over time, staying inside for at least 24 hours can protect you and your family until it is safe to leave the area.
What Happens During Radiation Therapy Treatment
What happens during your radiation therapy treatment depends on the kind of radiation therapy you receive.
External-beam radiation therapy
External-beam radiation therapy delivers radiation from a machine outside the body. It is the most common radiation therapy treatment for cancer.
Each session is quick, lasting about 15 minutes. Radiation does not hurt, sting, or burn when it enters the body. You will hear clicking or buzzing throughout the treatment and there may be a smell from the machine. Typically, people have treatment sessions 5 times per week, Monday through Friday. This schedule usually continues for 3 to 9 weeks, depending on your personal treatment plan.
This type of radiation therapy targets only the tumor. But it will affect some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. While most people feel no pain when each treatment is being delivered, effects of treatment slowly build up over time and may include discomfort, skin changes, or other side effects, depending on where in the body treatment is being delivered. The 2-day break in treatment each week allows your body some time to repair this damage. Some of the effects may not go away until the treatment period is completed. Let the health care professionals if you are experiencing side effects. Read more about the side effects of radiation therapy.
Internal radiation therapy
The permanent implant loses it radioactivity
The temporary implant is removed
Read Also: Best Gifts For Someone Going Through Chemo
How Will I Know If I Have Been Exposed To Or Contaminated By Radioactive Materials
Emergency officials will be working to determine who may have been exposed to radiation. The best way to limit your exposure is to get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned. If you were outdoors in an area when a radiation emergency happens, you could be contaminated with radioactive material. will lower your exposure to harmful radioactive material
Depending on where you were during the radiation emergency, emergency officials may advise you to get screened at a Community Reception Center . At a CRC, emergency workers will use radiation detectors to look for any radioactive contamination.
Vitamins And Dietary Supplements
Many people ask about taking vitamins during treatment. You may take a daily multivitamin, if you wish. Dont take more than the recommended daily allowance of any vitamin. Dont take any other vitamins or any supplements without talking to your doctor. This includes both nutritional and herbal supplements.
Read Also: 67 72 Chevy Truck 4 Core Radiator
Your Role On Your Radiation Therapy Team
You will have a team of healthcare providers working together to provide the right care for you. Youre a part of that team, and your role includes:
- Arriving on time for all of your radiation therapy sessions.
- Asking questions and talking about your concerns. We have included a list of possible questions at the end of this resource.
- Telling someone on your radiation therapy team when you have side effects.
- Telling your doctor or nurse if you are in pain.
- Caring for yourself at home:
- Quitting smoking, if you smoke.
- Following your healthcare teams instructions to care for your skin.
- Drinking liquids as instructed by your healthcare team.
- Eating the foods suggested by your healthcare team.
- Maintaining your weight.
United States Government Guides For Fallout Protection
The United States government, often the Office of Civil Defense in the Department of Defense, provided guides to fallout protection in the 1960s, frequently in the form of booklets. These booklets provided information on how to best survive nuclear fallout. They also included instructions for various fallout shelters, whether for a family, a hospital, or a school shelter were provided. There were also instructions for how to create an improvised fallout shelter, and what to do to best increase a person’s chances for survival if they were unprepared.
The central idea in these guides is that materials like concrete, dirt, and sand are necessary to shield a person from fallout particles and radiation. A significant amount of materials of this type are necessary to protect a person from fallout radiation, so safety clothing cannot protect a person from fallout radiation. However, protective clothing can keep fallout particles off a person’s body, but the radiation from these particles will still permeate through the clothing. For safety clothing to be able to block the fallout radiation, it would have to be so thick and heavy that a person could not function.
How Will I Know When It Is Safe To Leave My Home Or Place Of Shelter
Emergency officials will tell you if you need to leave your home . Stay inside where you are until an evacuation order is given. Emergency officials will tell you when to go to an emergency shelter, where the shelter is located, and the safest route for travel. Act quickly and follow instructions. Each situation will be different and emergency officials will give you the best information to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Head And Neck Radiation
Radiation treatment of head and neck tumors cause some side effects. Dry mouth is caused because the glands that make saliva are in the area of radiation. Saliva can become thick and you may have less saliva. The decrease in saliva can cause a greater chance for cavities in the teeth. You will need to be seen by a dentist before starting treatment. The dentist may need to remove any teeth that might give you problems. The dentist may also make molds for use with fluoride treatments to prevent cavities. It is very important you follow all of the dentists recommendations. Newer techniques of radiation delivery can minimize some of these side effects. It may be helpful for your dentist to speak with your radiation oncologist before any dental work is done, during or after the period of treatment.
What can be done about the side effects?
Radiation Therapy And Fertility
You must use contraception during your treatment if youre sexually active and you or your partner could get pregnant. You should not conceive a child while youre getting radiation therapy to your pelvis and for 1 to 2 years after your treatment is finished. For more information, read the section Sexual health in this resource.
If you would like to have children after your radiation therapy, speak with your doctor before you begin your treatment.
How Should I Prepare For A Radiation Emergency
Your community should have a plan in place in case of a radiation emergency. Check with community leaders to learn more about the plan. Also, check with your childs school, the nursing home of a family member, and your employer to see what their plans are for dealing with a radiation emergency. At home, put together an emergency kit that would be appropriate for any emergency. A battery-powered or hand crank emergency radio, preferably a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio is important to have for any emergency situation.
Residual Radiation And Fallout
Residual radiation is defined as radiation emitted more than one minute after the detonation. If the fission explosion is an airburst, the residual radiation will come mainly from the weapon debris. If the explosion is on or near the surface, the soil, water, and other materials in the vicinity will be sucked upward by the rising cloud, causing early and delayed fallout. Early fallout settles to the ground during the first 24 hours it may contaminate large areas and be an immediate and extreme biological hazard. Delayed fallout, which arrives after the first day, consists of microscopic particles that are dispersed by prevailing winds and settle in low concentrations over possibly extensive portions of Earths surface.
A nuclear explosion produces a complex mix of more than 300 different isotopes of dozens of elements, with half-lifes from fractions of a second to millions of years. The total radioactivity of the fission products is extremely large at first, but it falls off at a fairly rapid rate as a result of radioactive decay. Seven hours after a nuclear explosion, residual radioactivity will have decreased to about 10 percent of its amount at 1 hour, and after another 48 hours it will have decreased to 1 percent.