How to Manage the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
How to Manage the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Cancer treatments are known to bring a ton of side effects on patients, and radiation therapy is not an exception. If you’re currently undergoing the treatment, you might be experiencing feelings of mild discomfort. That’s normal. The good news is, there are several things you can do to ease the negative side effects of radiation therapy. Here are those side effects and how they can be mitigated:
1. Radiation dermatitis
It’s not uncommon for cancer patients to notice some changes in their skin, particularly on the treated area. Your skin might appear swollen, tanned, blistered, or red during the treatment period. You might also experience skin peeling, irritation, and itchiness over the next few weeks.
Be sure that you inform your cancer care team once you see any unusual skin changes, as they might prescribe you medications. Although these effects eventually disappear after your treatment, it’s still important to take action. Take care of your skin by following these steps:
- Use lukewarm water and mild soap.
- Ask your cancer care team first if you can apply any product on the affected skin.
- Wear only loose clothes made of soft and smooth material.
- Avoid rubbing, scratching, or scrubbing your skin.
- Avoid placing ice packs or heating pads directly on the treated skin.
- Protect the treated area from sunlight. Ask your cancer care team if you can use a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Since some healthy cells are destroyed during radiation treatment, patients tend to get weaker a few weeks following their therapy. You will feel tired easily, especially as you continue treatment. What’s more, stress from your sickness, regular trips to the clinic, and medication expenses may worsen your condition.
The difference between day-to-day fatigue and the fatigue you get from cancer treatment is that the latter can last a long time if left untreated. Your daily routine might even be affected, which is why it’s best to address your concerns to your cancer care team. Other than that, here’s what you can do to ease fatigue:
- Get more sleep at night.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Only finish tasks that your body can handle.
- Take a few weeks off from work.
- Engage in physical activities, but keep them light and steady.
- Ask your employer if your working hours can be reduced.
- Ask family members or friends to help you with housework and errands.
3. Breast changes
You might encounter pain and discomfort in your breast or chest area during and after treatment. While these feelings are normally minor, they may continue for several months or possibly even years if you leave them be. Ask your cancer care team to prescribe you mild pain relievers to treat breast soreness. You might also want to ask about using special creams or ointments if your breast skin appears sunburned.
Your oncologist or nurse might advise you to avoid wearing a bra to avoid further irritation. If you don’t feel comfortable going out braless, just wear a soft cotton bra without any underwires. In case your shoulders feel stiff, tell your cancer care team so they can teach you exercises to improve shoulder movement.
4. Armpit discomfort
Breast cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy often experience pain, swelling, and numbness around their armpit. Because your armpit skin is close to your breast, the treatment will leave it irritated and sore. Follow these tips to manage any feelings of uneasiness:
- Wear loose clothing or sleeveless shirts.
- Use warm water while showering.
- Don’t shave your armpit while you’re still under treatment.
- Don’t use strong soaps.
- Use cornstarch instead of antiperspirants or deodorants.
- Apply aloe vera if your armpit feels itchy or looks pink.
Keep in mind that side effects vary from patient to patient. For instance, if your body responds positively to therapy, you’re most likely to evade long-term problems. Individuals who have maintained a healthy lifestyle usually encounter only minor issues, making it easier for them to cope with the stress of radiation therapy.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to let your oncologist or nurse know how your sessions are affecting you. They might change your treatment plan or provide you with additional medications to help reduce the unwanted side effects of treatment.
Save Lives with Breast Cancer Car Donations
A simple vehicle donation can make a lasting impact on the lives of breast cancer patients. When you donate an old clunker to us, you can be an instant hero to needy breast cancer patients in your community.
We’ll sell your donation and use the proceeds to fund the vital programs of our charity partners. These are IRS-certified 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that are dedicated to providing comprehensive breast health services to all needy individuals.
They provide cash-strapped breast cancer patients with easy access to medical facilities where they can undergo full treatment. They also offer free breast cancer screening as well as other breast cancer prevention and education services.
As a donor, you get to enjoy a huge tax write-off. Expect a tax-deductible receipt in your mailbox within 30 days after we sell off your donated vehicle. We’ll also provide you with our fast and free towing service wherever you are located in the United States.
We offer the most convenient way for you to dispose of a vehicle that you no longer want. Check here for the comprehensive list of vehicle types that we welcome in our program.
Ready to Make a Big Difference?
It will take just a few minutes of your time to donate a vehicle to us — a few minutes that can save lives and bring a lifetime of positive changes to breast cancer-stricken individuals in your area. Donate to us now. Reach us at 866-540-5069 or fill out our online donation form now!