Sunday, March 3, 2024

Radiation Therapy For Skin Cancer On Face Side Effects

Mouth And Throat Changes

How to care for your skin during radiation therapy

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

Return to Top of Page

Avoid Anything That Could Cause Injury To The Skin In The Area Being Treated:

  • Do not scratch your skin.
  • Avoid using adhesive tape in the treatment area. If bandaging is necessary, use paper tape. Try to apply the tape outside of the treatment area.
  • Use an electric razor if you must shave in the treatment area. Do not use a preshave lotion, aftershave or hair removal products.
  • Do not use cornstarch or powders in the treatment area, especially in the area of skin folds as this can lead to fungal infections.
  • Do not use heating pads, hot water bottles or ice packs on the treatment area.
  • Practice sun safety, as exposure to the sun can cause more skin damage. Your best protection is to stay in the shade and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, and a hat when outdoors. Avoid the sun during peak hours . If you are outside in the sun, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 . Follow these tips in the winter months also!
  • Do not smoke. Smoking has been found to worsen radiation related skin reactions.
  • Talk to your treatment team before swimming, including chlorinated pools, hot tubs and non-chlorinated water .

Check the skin in the treatment area daily. Report any cuts, open areas or changes to your radiation oncology treatment team.

Newer Ways Of Giving Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is more accurate than it has ever been. Current radiotherapy techniques, such as conformal radiotherapy and intensity modulated radiotherapy , accurately shape the radiotherapy beams to fit the cancer. This means less healthy tissue receives radiation, and so there are fewer side effects.

Research continues to look into ways to make radiotherapy even more precise.

  • Devita, Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer Principles and Practice of Oncology VT Devita, TS Lawrence and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer Health, 2019

  • Radiation Dermatitis Guidelines for Radiotherapy Healthcare Professionals , April 2020

    The Society and College of Radiographers

You May Like: Would Blood Work Show Cancer

When Is Radiation Therapy Used To Treat Basal Cell Carcinoma

Surgery is often the primary treatment for basal cell carcinoma, but there are many situations in which radiation therapy may be a physicians first recommendation. For instance, radiation therapy may be used when:

  • The tumor is very large
  • The tumor is in a location that makes surgery difficult
  • Patients cant, or choose not to, undergo surgery

In addition, radiation therapy is sometimes used as an adjuvant therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells following surgery. It may also be used to treat basal cell carcinoma that has spread.

How Is Radiation Therapy Given

Pin by Sensus Healthcare on Keloids

When radiation therapy is used to treat skin cancers, the radiation is focused from outside the body onto the tumor. This is often done using a beam of low-energy x-rays or electrons . These types of radiation dont go any deeper than the skin. This helps limit the side effects to other organs and body tissues.

Getting radiation treatment is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is stronger and aimed more precisely at the cancer. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time getting you into place for treatment takes longer.

Read Also: Pain That Radiates From Back To Chest

Coping With Hair Loss

Hair loss can be upsetting. Talk to your care team if you find losing your hair difficult to cope with.

They understand how distressing it can be and can support you and discuss your options with you.

You may decide you want to wear a wig if you lose the hair on your head. Synthetic wigs are available free of charge on the NHS for some people, but you’ll usually have to pay for a wig made from real hair.

Other options include headwear such as headscarves.

How Soon Might I Have Side Effects From Radiation Therapy

There are two kinds of radiation side effects: early and late. Early side effects, such as nausea and fatigue, usually donât last long. They may start during or right after treatment and last for several weeks after it ends, but then they get better. Late side effects, such as lung or heart problems, may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do.

The most common early side effects are fatigue and skin problems. You might get others, such as hair loss and nausea, depending on where you get radiation.

Recommended Reading: Regional Cancer Care Associates Hackensack

Skin Problems Are A Common Side Effect

Skin problems are a common side effect of external radiation therapy. The types of skin problems that occur as a result of radiation therapy include:

  • General irritation
  • Skin may appear tan

These side effects occur in the area being exposed to radiation. People may also lose hair in the area being treated.

The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

What Are the Side Effects of Radiation Treatment?

Radiation-induced side effects are thought to be terrifying burns and mutations from nuclear fallout. This misconception deters so many patients from receiving treatment. To clear up some of the confusion, let’s break down the more common side effects of radiation. To do this, let’s put radiation-induced side effects into two categories: acute reactions and latent reactions.

Also Check: Proton Radiation For Prostate Cancer

Talking With Your Health Care Team About Skin And Nail Changes

Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:

  • What skin-and nail related side effects are common for the type of treatment Im receiving?
  • Are there steps I can take to prevent any of these problems?
  • What problems should I call you about? Are there any problems that need urgent medical care?
  • When might these problems start? How long might they last?
  • What brands of soap and lotion would you advise me to use on my skin? On my nails?
  • Are there skin and nail products I should avoid?
  • Should I see a dermatologist so I can learn more about how to prevent or manage skin problems?

View Transcript

How It Is Given

Radiation therapy to treat skin cancer is given externally. It can be done using different techniques and types of radiation. The treatment team will work out the best technique for your situation. You may have a separate planning session so the radiation therapy team can work out the best position for your body during treatment.

Your treatment will usually start within a couple of weeks of this appointment. During each treatment session, you will lie on a table under the radiation machine. Once you are in the correct position, the machine will rotate around you to deliver radiation to the area containing the cancer. The entire process can take 1020 minutes, but the treatment itself takes only a few minutes.

Don’t Miss: Prostate Cancer Treatment Radiation Seeds

Radiotherapy For Skin Cancer

Radiotherapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. There are 2 main types of radiotherapy, external and internal radiotherapy .

External beam radiotherapy directs radiotherapy beams at the cancer from a machine. This is different to internal radiotherapy which means giving radiotherapy to the cancer from inside the body.

You usually have external radiotherapy for non melanoma skin cancer. But in some cases, your doctor might use brachytherapy instead. But this is less common.

Be Extra Kind To The Skin In The Area Being Treated

Radiation Therapy For Skin Cancer On Face
  • The skin in the treatment area will be more sensitive and can be harmed more easily.
  • Keep your skin clean and dry.
  • Wash skin in the treatment area with lukewarm water and a mild soap, such as Dove®, Neutrogena, or a baby soap. Avoid rubbing with a washcloth or bath scrubbies/sponges. Use the palm of your hand to gently wash the skin in the treatment area.
  • Dry skin gently. Pat, don’t rub, using a soft towel.
  • Moisturizing the skin can be helpful to reduce itching and soften the skin, making you more comfortable. Talk with your radiation team about which moisturizer you should use.
  • Do not use make up or cosmetics in the treatment area.
  • Do not use skin products that contain scents or perfumes.
  • Radiation often causes the hair in the field of treatment to fall out. This is often temporary, though for some it may become permanent.
  • If your treatment is to your head, use a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo, and try not to shampoo every day. In addition, do not use hot curlers or a curling/flat iron, and be gentle when combing or brushing hair.
  • Wear loose fitting, soft clothing over the treatment area.
  • Use gentle detergents, such as Woolite®, Ivory Snow®, Dreft®, or Eucalan® to wash your clothes.
  • Avoid starching the clothes you wear over the treatment area.

Also Check: How Long Does It Take For Thyroid Cancer To Spread

What To Expect With Radiation Therapy

Radiation provides a nonsurgical approach that requires 15-minute sessions daily for three to five weeks to deliver the treatment. The tumor will slough off during this period along with some adjacent normal skin, but these areas will generally heal with new skin with a smooth surface in the ensuing two to six weeks.

Although radiation therapy requires more visits than surgery, there is no need for anesthesia or cessation of medicines that might cause complications during surgery. Treatments are brief and painless.

Radiation may also be used following surgery for high-risk squamous cell and basal cell lesions that have close positive margins, are large, include nerve invasion, have a high growth rate, or include the possibility of nodal involvement. Radiation used after surgery improves the control rate beyond surgery alone in these high-risk scenarios.

When Is Radiation Therapy Used

If a tumor is very large or is on an area of the skin that makes it hard to remove with surgery, radiation therapy may be used as the main treatment. Radiation therapy can also be useful for some patients who, for other health reasons, cant have surgery. Radiation therapy can often cure small basal or squamous cell skin cancers and can delay the growth of more advanced cancers.

Radiation is also useful when combined with other treatments. For example, radiation can be used after surgery as an adjuvant treatment to kill any small areas of remaining cancer cells that may not have been visible during surgery. This lowers the risk of cancer coming back after surgery. Radiation may also be used to help treat skin cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Also Check: How To Check For Stomach Cancer

Treating Skin Cancer With Radiation Therapy

Find an Australian who hasnt had skin cancer treatment or knows someone who has, and youll have found a rare individual.

Skin cancer impacts so many lives in Australia, with two-thirds of Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. That adds up to a shocking 750,000 people being treated for at least one non-melanoma skin cancer every year.

The cancer develops when skin cells are damaged by UV radiation from the sun. Sunburn, tanning and the use of solariums increase the risk and are part of the reason Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

And while most people have their skin cancers successfully removed, it can be deadly, killing 2,162 Australians every year. But there are several treatment options available.

They work by using directed radiotherapy to the lesion, which ultimately causes death of the cancer and by targeting it to the lesion specifically, it reduces any dose to the surrounding normal tissue, which means a very low chance of any significant side effects. Radiation treatment is also particularly beneficial for patients on blood thinning medications as there is no changes to their medication regime, which is convenient to the patient and keeps their readings consistent, Radiation Oncologist Associate Professor Matthew Foote explains.

Before a person can be treated for skin cancer, though, the cancer must be diagnosed, which is why its vital that Australians are aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer.

After Radiation Therapy: Pay Attention To Your Treated Skin

Radiation Treatment: Managing Your Side Effects

Some side effects occur weeks, months, or years after your last radiation treatment. This can happen even if you had no side effects during treatment. To catch these side effects early, dermatologists recommend the following:

  • Watch your treated skin for signs of change. After treatment, its important to pay close attention to the skin that was treated with radiation therapy.If you see redness, a rash, or any other change, call your oncologist or dermatologist.

    Rash caused by radiation therapy

    The right skin care may lessen the side effects that develop on your skin.

  • Protect the treated area from the sun. Anyone who has had radiation treatments has a higher risk of developing skin cancer in that area. Skin cancer tends to show up many years later, so this makes sun protection essential for life.To find out how to protect your skin, go to Prevent skin cancer.

  • Make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist. By having a dermatologist, you have a specialist to see if you develop a skin problem later. This is especially important since you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Read Also: Chem Dry Carpet Cleaning Reviews

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.

Changes To Your Blood Cell Counts

Its very rare that electron beam radiation therapy affects blood cell counts. However, call your radiation oncologist or nurse immediately if you develop:

  • A fever of 100.4 °F or higher
  • Flu-like symptoms

These things can mean that you have an infection. If you have an infection, you might need antibiotics. You might also have another problem related to a drop in your blood cell counts.

You May Like: Does Neuropathy From Chemo Go Away

What Are The Side Effects Of Brachytherapy For Skin Cancer

Overall, brachytherapy skin cancer treatments are very well tolerated. During the weeks of treatment, you may experience limited skin redness, itching, or peeling. These changes occur gradually, are usually mild, and heal soon after treatment. Long-term side effects are rare, but they include minor cosmetic issues, such as:

  • A slight change in color of the treated skin
  • A possible minor scar at the tumor site
  • Hair loss at the treatment site

When Might Radiation Therapy Be Used

The Self Directed Income (SDI) Eye Opener: Another Update re: My ...

Radiation therapy is not needed for most people with melanoma on the skin, although it might be useful in certain situations:

  • It might be an option to treat very early stage melanomas, if surgery can’t be done for some reason.
  • Radiation can also be used after surgery for an uncommon type of melanoma known as desmoplastic melanoma.
  • Sometimes, radiation is given after surgery in the area where lymph nodes were removed, especially if many of the nodes contained cancer cells. This is to try to lower the chance that the cancer will come back.
  • Radiation can be used to treat melanoma that has come back after surgery, either in the skin or lymph nodes, or to help treat distant spread of the disease.
  • Radiation therapy is often used to relieve symptoms caused by the spread of the melanoma, especially to the brain or bones. Treatment with the goal of relieving symptoms is called palliative therapy. Palliative radiation therapy is not expected to cure the cancer, but it might help shrink it or slow its growth for a time to help control some of the symptoms.

Read Also: What Helps Nausea From Chemo

Facts About Skin Cancer

Research suggests that more than 3 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancers will be diagnosed in the United States this year. These cancers can usually be cured when treated at early stage.

Nearly 97,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed annually. Nearly 7,000 Americans will die of melanoma this year.

For Skin Cancer Treatment Princeton Radiation Oncology Expands Your Options

For many types of early stage non-melanoma skin cancers, radiation is an excellent curative treatment option. This includes basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma cancers. Also, radiation treatment for skin cancer can be delivered in two ways, depending on the size and location of the cancer.

Also Check: Back Pain Radiating Into Chest

Latest news
Related news