What Are Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy
The side effects depend on the site and extent of the head and neck cancer and whether it is done in conjunction with chemotherapy. In general, radiation therapy of the head and neck does not cause nausea, but a few patients do experience nausea during treatment. Many effective antiemetics can relieve this symptom if it should occur. Chemotherapy will cause its own side effects which will be discussed with the medical oncologist.
Generally, the side effects of radiation therapy become apparent abouttwo weeks into the treatment course, when a sore throat, loss of tastesensation, dryness of the mouth and dry skin reactions may occur. Sorethroat is the main side effect that makes the course of radiation therapydifficult.
If your sore throat is severe, you may be unable to take in enough food and liquids by mouth to maintain your weight or avoid dehydration. Your doctors will then insert a feeding tube temporarily into your stomach , which will allow you to maintain adequate nutrition without having to swallow all of the food that you need. Gastrostomy placement is usually an outpatient procedure. It is important, though, to continue swallowing even with a gastrostomy tube in place. Otherwise, your swallowing muscles may weaken this would cause permanent swallowing problems and make it difficult to stop using the gastrostomy tube even after the radiation treatment course is completed.
How Does Radiation Therapy Treat Cancer
Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control. All cells in the body go through a cycle to grow, divide, and multiply. Cancer cells go through this process faster than normal cells. Radiation therapy damages cell DNA so the cells stop growing or are destroyed.
Unlike other cancer treatments affect the whole body, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy is usually a local treatment. This means it generally affects only the part of the body where the cancer is located. Some healthy tissue near the cancer cells may be damaged during the treatment, but it usually heals after treatment ends.
There are many different types of radiation therapy, and they all work a little bit differently to destroy cancer cells.
How The Diet Can Change During Radiation Therapy
When it comes to healthy eating, we know that usually means eating plenty of vegetables and fruits. But what about milkshakes and gravy sauce? Would you ever expect those to be good for you too?
Your diet during radiation might include foods you wouldnt normally eat when otherwise healthy. Thats because your bodys needs during radiation are different.
What you eat during radiation therapy will be a combination of what tastes good and what your body needs during treatment. For example, here are some of the ways that the key components of your diet may change:
Calories: Some radiation patients need a higher-calorie diet to make sure that the food they are able to eat provides the body with enough energy to promote healthy tissue growth.
Protein: Protein helps maintain muscle and supports a healthy immune system both critical functions needed during radiation. Thats why many radiation patients also have high protein diets.
Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins and minerals also help keep the immune system strong and support healthy tissue repair. Maintaining adequate levels can be important. You should discuss with your doctor whether vitamin supplements are recommended. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you stop certain supplements during radiation therapy.
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Questions To Ask About Radiation Therapy
Before treatment, youll be asked to sign a consent form saying that your doctor has explained how radiation therapy may help, the possible risks, the type of radiation to be used, and your other treatment options. Before signing the consent form, be sure that you have had a chance to get all your questions answered. Here are some of the things you may want to ask about:
To Stop Cancer From Coming Back Somewhere Else
Cancer can spread from where it started to other body parts. Doctors often assume that a few cancer cells might already have spread even when they cant be seen on imaging scans like CT scans or MRIs. In some cases, the area where the cancer most often spreads to may be treated with radiation to kill any cancer cells before they grow into tumors. For instance, people with certain kinds of lung cancer may get radiation to the head, even when there is no cancer known to be there, because their type of lung cancer often spreads to the brain. This is done to help prevent cancer from spreading to the head even before it can. Sometimes, radiation to prevent future cancer can be given at the same time that radiation is given to treat existing cancer, especially if the area the cancer might spread to is close to the tumor itself.
Radiation For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Sometimes breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body. When this happens, the breast cancer is called metastatic or stage IV.
If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and are having symptoms, your doctor may recommend radiation therapy to:
- lower the risk of a cancer-weakened bone breaking
- open a blocked airway to improve breathing
- reduce pressure on a pinched spinal cord or nerve that might be causing pain, numbness, or weakness
- treat cancer that has spread to the brain
The radiation dose and schedule to treat metastatic breast cancer depends on a number of factors, including:
- the level of pain or amount of function lost
- the size of the cancer
- the location of the cancer
- the amount of previous radiation youve had
- the schedule for any other treatments
Indeed you can certainly opt out. You can also opt for a second opinion that is my suggestion. My mother celebrated her 94th birthday yesterday about 12 years ago, she had a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Because she developed a serious infection after surgery she could not have follow-up radiation or chemo. She has had clear mammograms ever since.
Prices & Where To Get It
Intravenous and injectable chemotherapies are given in a hospital or outpatient clinic. A pharmacist mixes and prepares these medications, and an oncology nurse administers them. Oral and topical chemo are purchased through a specialty pharmacy and can be administered at home.
The price of chemotherapy varies based on which medications are used and where you receive your treatment. In addition to health insurance, many drug companies offer discounts or free drug programs.
If you’re diagnosed with cancer, make an appointment with your clinic’s oncology social worker and financial advocate for assistance with available programs.
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Does Radiation Therapy Affect Pregnancy Or Fertility
Females: Its important not to become pregnant while getting radiation it can harm the growing baby. If theres a chance you might become pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor about birth control options.
If you are or might be pregnant, let your doctor know right away.
If the area getting radiation in your body includes the ovaries, it is possible that the dose of radiation can cause the ovaries to no longer work , and that you would be unable to have children. it is important to know the risk of this possibility in advance of receiving radiation therapy. If you are thinking about radiation therapy that will affect the ovaries, talk to your doctor about how this might affect having children in the future.
Males: Not much is known about radiations effect on the children conceived by men while getting radiation therapy. Because of this, doctors often advise men to not get a woman pregnant during and for some weeks after treatment. Talk to your doctor to find out more about this.
Learn more in How Cancer and Cancer Treatment Can Affect Fertility.
Who Gets Radiation Therapy
More than half of people with cancer get radiation therapy. Sometimes, radiation therapy is the only cancer treatment needed and sometimes it’s used with other types of treatment. The decision to use radiation therapy depends on the type and stage of cancer, and other health problems a patient might have.
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How Effective Is Treatment For Inoperable Lung Cancer
It is extremely important to remember that inoperable does not mean incurable when it comes to lung cancer. In fact, an increasing number of patients are being treated with a non-surgical approach across all stages of this disease. Treatment effectiveness depends on the stage of disease. In early stage inoperable disease that is treated with radiotherapy alone, control of the local disease is typical. In more advanced disease, a combination of chemotherapy and radiation is delivered with curative intent. Cure rates are lower but still possible with disease spread to the lymph nodes within the chest. The medical or radiation oncologist may propose a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a patient who is otherwise well.
When cure is not a possibility, doctors recommend palliative treatment. This is the use of medications, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other measures to relieve symptoms of lung cancer without eliminating the tumor. The doctor will use smaller doses of radiation therapy to avoid side effects. At some point, if you and your oncologist or primary care physician agree that active treatment is no longer advisable, hospice care can provide comfort and support.
Esophageal Cancer Treatment: Chemo & Radiation
In February 2000, I began a new chapter in my life when I started esophageal cancer treatment. The top-notch medical team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center had diagnosedÂ a Phase III, 5-centimeter cancerous tumor at the junction of my esophagus and stomach.Now I was preparing for a six-week course of simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation designed to shrink the size of the tumor.Despite their assurances that this was the right course for me, I was not sure if this esophageal cancer treatment would work. Even if it did, my future was so uncertain that I called on God to help me through this part of my journey.
Proceeding In Faith
One evening, in response to my prayers, I came up with the saying: God sits on my right shoulder and there is nothing that He and I together canât handle. That statement stayed with me each time I went through another treatment.I faced six weeks of simultaneous chemo and radiation, and there were many days in which I was attacked by doubt. When I was overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my future, I would recall that statement and be comforted, knowing that God was with me.
Esophageal Cancer Treatment Begins
Simultaneous Chemo and Radiation Therapy
Support From Family and Friends
Esophageal Cancer Treatment Reactions
Rest And Recovery
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Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You
Most patients experience little or no side effects during cancer treatment, while some experience any of a number of side effects. Side effects can occur the same day or after treatment.
Thats because while radiation therapy mostly affects cancerous cells, it can impact healthy cells as well. When good cells are affected, patients may experience various side effects.
The location of the body targeted by radiation therapy can cause different side effects including:
Throughout your treatment, listen to your body and adjust your diet according to what it is telling you. You may find only some foods taste good on a given day. Be flexible and make adjustments to the foods you eat during radiation treatment.
Your radiation diet may include switching to a bland diet or adding lots of flavorful foods to your meals. Tell your doctor if you begin to experience any side effects from your radiation therapy.
What Are Some Of The Possible Risks Or Complications
A clear goal of treatment must be determined for each patient before therapy starts. The first question is often whether the goal of treatment is cure or, instead, the lessening of symptoms associated with an incurable cancer. If cure is unlikely, then potential risks associated with treatment may be less than those associated with a potentially curative course of radiation therapy. However in head and neck cancer the planned radiation to achieve long term palliation may be the same as the curative course.
Palliative courses of treatment generally entail giving a moderate doseof radiation over a short time. This provides a relatively high chanceof shrinking the tumor and lessening symptoms while exposing the patientto less risk of side effects and complications, and requiring a relativelybrief time to complete the therapy. A typical course of palliative radiationtreatments would be divided into 10 treatments given over two weeks.
On the other hand, if there is a reasonable chance of cure , then a longer and more arduous course of treatment is generally planned. The risks associated with treatment depend on the location and extent of the tumor and the normal structures that are nearby.
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The Radiation Side Effect You Should Know About
A lot of the focus on radiation therapy is what is does to your skin, and thats fair enough. But you also should talk to your radiation oncologist and radiation therapist about the possibility of lymphedema or swelling in the chest area as a side effect. It was only after receiving physical therapy, post-radiation, that my physical therapist noticed lymphedema, or the buildup of fluid, in my right breast. I honestly just thought it was swelling that would eventually subside. Id heard about getting lymphedema in my arm, but it never occurred to me that it could happen in my breast.
My physical therapist showed me different self-massages to help move fluid away from the swollen area and get the lymphatic system moving again. She also recommended this WearEase Swell Spot to wear to take the pressure off the swollen breast area. I have been wearing it for one month now and Ive seen a decrease in the swollen chest area of three centimeters .
My biggest takeaway? Please talk to your radiation oncologist about your risk of lymphedema, especially in the breasts. And if you can see a certified lymphedema specialist prior to surgery, even better. The specialist will take measurements of your upper and lower arm width, as well as the dimensions of your breasts, rib cage, and trunk area. That way, youll be able to keep tabs on whether there is any sort of swelling post-surgery or post-radiation, and if so, you can act quickly to correct any issues.
What Are The Side Effects Of Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy itself does not hurt but may have other temporary or permanent side effects. This might happen if radiation damages healthy cells close to the cancer cells being treated. The kinds of side effect you may experience, and how significant they are, can vary and depend on your general health, the dose of radiotherapy given, the part of your body being treated, and any other cancer treatments you may be receiving.
Some people who receive radiotherapy feel few side effects, or even none, and can carry on with everyday activities. Others experience more significant side effects. Usually, people have side effects due to radiotherapy after a few weeks of receiving treatment. They can continue for a while even after treatment is complete.
Common side effects include:
Many of these are temporary and resolve over time but others, such as infertility, may be permanent. Your medical team will be very experienced in helping patients who are receiving radiotherapy and can give you information and support in managing any side effects.
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Stage 2 Colorectal Cancer Treatment
Stage 2 colon cancer is most commonly treated with surgery to remove the part of the colon affected by cancer and to repair the colon. In general, chemotherapy isnt recommended after stage 2 surgery. Clinical trials are studying the effects of chemotherapy after stage 2 colon cancer surgery to see whether its beneficial. Stage 2 rectal cancer treatment may include several steps, done in a different order for different people. A treatment plan for stage 2 rectal cancer may look like: chemotherapy and radiation , then surgery, then chemotherapy again.
What Other Kind Of Cancer Treatments Are Available
Many different types of cancer treatment are used in Australia today. The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the type of cancer, the stage, your treatment goals and your general health.
Types of cancer treatment available include:
- surgery an operation to physically cut out a cancer
- chemotherapy strong medicines used to kill cancer cells
- immunotherapy medicines that use your own immune system to target and kill cancer cells
- hormone therapy medicines that block the effects of certain types of the bodys hormones on cancer growth and spread
- targeted therapy medicines that target specific traits of cancer cells to affect their growth and spread
- ablation using chemicals, extreme temperatures or radiowaves to kill areas of cancer cells
- alternative therapies using therapies outside of mainstream medical practice
- clinical trials taking part in trials of new medicines designed to treat cancer
Radiotherapy may be given together with other treatments, such as surgery and/or chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation given close together can make both treatments more effective.
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Stage 2 Cancer Prognosis
After a stage 2 cancer diagnosis, patients may want to learn more about their outlook. Survival rate estimates for cancer patients vary based on several factors, including:
- Overall health before beginning cancer treatment
Because stage 2 cancer has grown into nearby tissue, its considered more serious than stage 1, but not as serious as stage 3 or 4. The patients care team can share specifics about the stage 2 survival rate for his or her specific cancer type after assessing the cancer grade, location and other details about the patients health.
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