Radiotherapy - Side Effects
Radiotherapy is painless. Low dose treatments cause minimal side effects but treatment with high dose can cause variable side effects. But these effects go away in time and there are ways to reduce these effects.
Acute side effects: There is damage to epithelial surfaces of the skin, mouth, pharynx and bowel mucosa. Apart from
- Odema & erythema: swelling of the soft tissues is encountered during radiotherapy. Red rashes are seen in the area of treatment. Surgical intervention may be considered prior to treatment with radiation or the patient is given steroids to reduce swelling
- Infertility: The gonads (ovaries and testicles) are very sensitive to radiation. They will be unable to produce gametes following the radiotherapy
Long term side effects
- Fibrosis: some of the tissues become less elastic due to the treatment
- Hair loss: in case of radiotherapy to the head and neck region there is permanent hair loss
- Dryness: Dry mouth (xerostomia) and dry eyes (xerophthalmia) are the common problems witnessed after radiotherapy
- Secondary malignancies: Radiation is a cause of cancer, and secondary malignancies are seen in a small minority of patients, generally many years after they have received a curative course of radiation treatment.
- Fetal damage is seen in case of pregnant woman
Radiotherapy lowers the
- Skin problems: various levels of skin problems are encountered such as skin pain, sloughing of the outer layer of the skin (desquamation), hyperpigmentation, itching (pruritus) etc
- About Cancer - (http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/ default.asp?page=166)
- WHAT IS RADIOTHERAPY? - (http://www.cancernet.co.uk/rxt-what.htm)