Managing Side Effects

Managing Side Effects

Side effects vary from person to person and depend on the radiation dose and the part of the body being treated. Your doctor will advise you on how to manage any side effects you may experience.

What can I do to take care of myself during treatment?

Your overall health can sometimes affect how your body reacts to radiation treatment and whether you have side effects. You need to take special care of yourself and protect your health during radiation treatment:

  • Be sure to get plenty of rest and try to get quality, restful sleep at night. You may feel more tired than normal. Severe tiredness or fatigue may last for several weeks after your treatment ends.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Depending on the area of your body receiving radiation, your doctor or nurse may suggest changes in your diet.
  • Take care of the skin in the treatment area. If you receive external radiation therapy, the skin in the treated area may become more sensitive or look and feel sunburned. Ask your doctor or nurse before using any soaps, lotions, sunscreens, deodorants, medicines, perfumes or cosmetics, as some of these products may irritate your skin.
  • Protect the treated area from the sun, as your skin may be more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor before using a lotion that contains a sunscreen.
  • Do not rub, scrub or use adhesive tape on treated skin. If your skin must be covered or bandaged, use paper tape or tape for sensitive skin. Place the tape outside the treated area and in a different spot each time you use it.
  • Do not put heat or cold on the treatment area without first talking with your doctor. Your skin may even be sensitive to hot water, so use only lukewarm water for washing the treated area.


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