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.
How Is Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer Performed
Most people lie on their back during the treatment though some breast treatments are performed while lying on your stomach . You place your arm above your head .
During the treatment, your treatment team:
- Positions and secures your body in the immobilization device. If you had a mastectomy, your provider might place a bolus on top of the treatment area to increase the radiation dose to the surface.
- Lines up the machine with the first treatment field. To protect themselves from radiation exposure, providers leave the room. Your provider can still hear and see you.
- Turns on the machine. You will hear a whirring noise, but you wont see the radiation beams. You must remain still. Depending on the radiation type and dose, treatment can take 30 seconds to several minutes.
- Returns to the room to position the machine to treat a different treatment field. Most people get treatment on two to five fields each day.
- Takes daily/weekly X-rays of the treatment field to make sure the radiation is hitting the correct area.
Concentration And Memory Problems
After treatment for breast cancer, some women have difficulties concentrating and remembering things. Doctors call this cognitive impairment.
An early menopause may result in similar symptoms, or make them worse.
Related Stories & Media
Also Check: What To Expect After 2nd Chemo Treatment
How Fertility Might Be Affected
For women: Talk to your cancer care team about how radiation might affect your fertility . Its best to do this before starting treatment so you are aware of possible risks to your fertility.
Depending on the radiation dose, women getting radiation therapy in the pelvic area sometimes stop having menstrual periods and have other symptoms of menopause. Report these symptoms to your cancer care and ask them how to relieve these side effects.Sometimes menstrual periods will return when radiation therapy is over, but sometimes they do not.
See Fertility and Women With Cancer to learn more.
For men: Radiation therapy to an area that includes the testicles can reduce both the number of sperm and their ability to function. If you want to father a child in the future and are concerned about reduced fertility, talk to your cancer care team before starting treatment. One option may be to bank your sperm ahead of time.
See Fertility and Men With Cancer to learn more.
Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is often used to treat breast cancer. Your healthcare team will consider your personal needs to plan the type and amount of radiation, and when and how it is given. You may also receive other treatments.
Radiation therapy is given for different reasons. You may have radiation therapy to:
- lower the risk of the cancer coming back, or recurring, after surgery
- shrink a tumour before surgery
- treat breast cancer that comes back, or recurs, in the area of a mastectomy
- relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced breast cancer
Doctors use external beam radiation therapy to treat breast cancer. During external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs radiation through the skin to the tumour and some of the tissue around it.
Some women may not be able to have radiation therapy because they already had radiation therapy to the chest or breast. Doctors may not offer radiation therapy to women with lung problems, damaged heart muscles and certain connective tissue diseases.
Read Also: Do You Always Lose Hair With Chemo
Also Check: Breast Cancer Of The Nipple
Uab Researcher Studying Ways To Reduce Toxicity In Breast Cancer Treatment
Anna Sorace, Ph.D.A researcher from the University of Alabama at BirminghamSchool of Engineering has received a $1.4 million, three-year grant to research systemic toxicities in breast cancer. Toxicity is the main dose-limiting factor in cancer treatments. Developing methods to control it could dramatically impact patient health.
Anna Sorace, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of EngineeringDepartment of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Radiology, has been awarded an R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to use mathematical modeling and molecular imaging to minimize toxicity while maintaining maximum response in breast cancer therapy.
The studys overarching goal is to utilize biology-based mathematical models and advanced molecular imaging to dramatically decrease systemic toxicities, while either maintaining or accelerating tumor control in preclinical models of breast cancer. Advances in systemic therapies have improved long-term survival in patients with locally advanced breast cancer, yet there has been a naturally accompanying increase in associated long-term side effects, including cognitive and cardiac deficiency.
Sorace and her team also seek to develop quantitative imaging technologies capable of characterizing the temporal alterations in brain and cardiac function, organs known to be adversely affected by chemotherapies.
How Long Does Radiation Therapy Last
People may need to complete a course of radiation therapy, which will likely span several weeks. Radiation treatment can use external beam radiation or internal beam radiation, which doctors call brachytherapy. The therapy may treat the whole breast or focus on specific areas to minimize the damage to healthy cells.
Also Check: Chemo Therapy For Breast Cancer
Association Of Antihormonal Therapy With Long
Compared to patients who did not receive endocrine therapy, those who used antihormonal drugs more often reported hot flashes and vaginal dryness , while hair loss was less common . Dry eyes and visual disturbances were experienced by roughly one-third of patients taking these drugs.
Among the subclasses of antihormonal drugs, aromatase inhibitors were associated with a relatively high prevalence of joint pain, whereas loss of libido was prevalent with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs .
Why Radiation Is Used
One of the upsides of using radiation is that it can be used to treat breast cancer at almost every stage. Its most often used in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy, and other medicines to prevent breast cancer from coming back. And for incurable cases such as when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body its commonly used to ease symptoms.
But, unlike other forms of treatment, radiation is generally localized, meaning its usually aimed at only the part of the body thats needing therapy. In many cases, patients might just need radiation to a part of the breast or partial-breast irradiation where internal or external radiation is directed toward the area around where the cancer was removed.
Recommended Reading: Chemo For Stage 4 Lung Cancer
What To Expect When Receiving Radiation For Breast Cancer
During your first appointment, the technicians will take measurements of the treatment area. These precise measurements help minimize the amount of healthy tissue affected by the high-energy beams of radiation.
The team typically makes identifying marks on your skin to ensure they are targeting the right areas. They may also create a mold of your body to help keep you in the correct position during the treatment.
If you require brachytherapy treatments, the team will fit you with a catheter that will remain in place for the duration of your radiation therapy.
Setting up for the treatment will take longer than the radiation itself. Radiation therapy only takes a few minutes .
Your oncology team will monitor your progress throughout the treatment process, answer any questions you might have, and help keep you comfortable.
Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy: What To Expect From Treatment And Recovery
Radiation therapy is a standard treatment for breast cancer. It uses high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells. This can help to either shrink existing tumors or prevent cancer from returning after surgery.
While radiation treatment isnt painful, it can result in some short and long-term side effects. Understanding the side effects associated with radiation treatment and how to manage them can make the recovery period more comfortable for the patient.
Have you considered clinical trials for Breast cancer?
We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Breast cancer, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available and be a part of finding a cure.
Read Also: Do Solar Panels Emit Radiation
Episode : Ongoing And Late Side Effects
Most people will experience side effects during breast cancer treatment, but for some people these side effects can become ongoing or even develop months after treatment has ended. Kellie Curtain talks to breast cancer survivor Pauline Prebble and oncologist and clinician scientist at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute Dr Belinda Yeo about what to watch for and what you can do to avoid or minimise the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and hormone therapy.
Upfront About Breast Cancer is a production of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Our theme music is by the late Tara Simmons, and this episode was made possible through the Supporting Women In Rural Areas Diagnosed with Breast Cancer program, funded by the Australian Government through Cancer Australia.
Want to get in touch? Email us at , or call our Helpline on 1800 500 258.
Find out more about Breast Cancer Network Australia and how we support Australians with breast cancer at bcna.org.au/.
Easing Worries About Radiation Therapy
Its normal to worry about possible side effects of radiation therapy.
Talk with your health care provider about your concerns.
Your health care provider may be able to suggest a hospital social worker, patient navigator, psychologist or support group to help ease anxiety related to radiation therapy .
Learn more about support groups.
Also Check: What Type Of Hpv Causes Cancer
What Is Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer
Radiation for Breast Cancer. Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays that destroy cancer cells. Some women with breast cancer will need radiation, in addition to other treatments. Radiation therapy is used in several situations: After breast-conserving surgery , to help lower the chance that
How Does Radiation Kill Cancer Cells
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays, protons, or other particles to kill cancer cells. These particles damage the DNA in cancer cells, ridding them of their ability to reproduce, which slows or stops their growth. Although radiation therapy can affect healthy cells, they usually recover. Doctors use the lowest effective dosage
Recommended Reading: Does Heat Make Cancer Spread
Advances Of Radiation Therapy
Despite possible long-term side effects of radiation treatment, it’s essential to point out that radiation therapy has come a long since it was introduced in 1903, especially in recent years. With more precise dosing and newer methods of delivery, older studies may overestimate the risks.
At the same time, as people are living longer with cancer, the long-term effects of radiation will become increasingly important. It’s estimated that 50% of people diagnosed with cancer will receive radiation therapy at some point in their journey.
How Long Does It Take For Radiation To Cause Side Effects
Late side effects can take months or even years to develop. They can occur in any normal tissue in the body that has received radiation. The risk of late side effects depends on the area treated as well as the radiation dose that was used. Careful treatment planning can help avoid serious long-term side effects.
Recommended Reading: Side Effects Of 5fu Chemo
You May Like: Stage 2 Uterine Cancer Survival Rate
Change In Breast Shape Size And Colour
If youve had radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, the breast tissue and nipple on the treated side may feel firmer than before, change colour or the breast may be smaller and look different.
Although this is normal, you may be concerned about differences in the size of your breasts, or worry that the difference is noticeable.
You can discuss this with your breast surgeon to see if anything can be done to make the difference less noticeable. These side effects may affect how you feel about your body, including how you feel about intimacy and sex.
Side Effects From Breast Cancer Treatment
Breast cancer side effects are symptoms or ailments that develop due to the treatments used or as a result of the disease itself.
Long-term side effects begin during treatment and continue after all treatment is stopped.
Late side effects are symptoms that may appear weeks, months or years after treatment ends.
Recommended Reading: Back Pain That Radiates To Abdomen
Talk With Others Who Understand
MyBCTeam is the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. On MyBCTeam, more than 58,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with breast cancer.
Have you undergone radiation therapy for breast cancer? Do you have any tips for managing its side effects? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.
Dont Miss: Does Breast Cancer Cause Pain In Your Breast
What Is The Best Treatment For Radiation
One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.
Read Also: What Is The Her2 Gene In Breast Cancer
You May Like: Why Is Liver Cancer So Deadly
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as:
Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs.
Getting radiation to the middle portion of the chest can raise your risk of heart disease. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries , heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats.
Radiation pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by radiation treatment to the chest . It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. Its more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema . Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include:
- Shortness of breath that usually gets worse with exercise
- Chest pain, which is often worse when taking in a deep breath
Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray.
Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. Steroids, like prednisone, are usually used. With treatment, most people recover without any lasting effects. But if it persists, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis . When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air.
Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects.
How Long Does It Take For Breast Cancer To Go Away
Changes to the breast tissue usually go away in 6 to 12 months, but it can take longer. External beam radiation therapy can also cause side effects later on: Some women may find that radiation therapy causes the breast to become smaller and firmer. Radiation may affect your options for breast reconstruction later on.
Recommended Reading: Memorial Hospital For Cancer And Allied Diseases
What Is Radiation Recall
Radiation recall is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. It is rare but it can happen when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or soon after external-beam radiation therapy.
The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation therapy. Symptoms may include redness, tenderness, swelling, wet sores, and peeling skin.
Typically, these effects start within days or weeks of starting radiation therapy. But they can also appear months or years later. Doctors treat radiation recall with medications called corticosteroids. Rarely, it may be necessary to wait until the skin heals to continue with chemotherapy.
Managing The Challenges Of Hormone Therapies
Hormone therapy for early breast cancer affects people differently. Some people experience more side effects than others and its not something you can predict before treatment. Many women find that the side effects are often worse at the start of treatment, and can settle down after weeks or months, but some symptoms persist for the duration of treatment.
Hormones occur naturally in the body and control the growth and activity of cells. We know that the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, can help some types of breast cancer to grow. Hormone therapy works by reducing the amount of oestrogen in the body or blocking its effects. You can have side effects from hormone therapies because they lower your levels of oestrogen or stop your body from being able to use it.
The side effects you experience will depend on the type of hormone treatment you are on.
Also Check: Signs Of Deterioration In Cancer Patients