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MEDICLINIC CITY HOSPITAL COMPREHENSIVE CANCER CENTRE

Side Effects
 

The doctor will also discuss the possible side effects of the therapy. He will try to explain the entire treatment process. He will also give the patient information on any further examinations, check-ups or treatments after the radiotherapy.

Possible Side Effects

All types of therapy have their side effects, and this to radiotherapy. However, as a result ofmore precise radiation techniques and better supportive measures, these have been significantly reduced in recent years.

Skin Reactions


A skin reaction may occur depending on the type of radiotherapy (location, volume, single dose and total dose). With radiotherapy targeting a tumour in the mouth or throat region, or with breast cancer treatment, the skin is relatively severely affected. After two to three weeks of treatment, patients may experience a skin reaction similar to sunburn. Patients experiencing such symptoms should contact the nursing staff who will coordinate further treatment with the doctor. Household remedies should not be used without prior consultation with the doctor. Many common skincare lotions and creams contain traces of heavy metals. The use of such creams causes the radiation to be scattered into the surface of the skin andleadsto even higher skin exposure.

Reactions of the Mucous Membranes

With radiotherapy of the throat and thorax areas (e.g. for lung or oesophageal cancer), parts of the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and oesophagus are often treated simultaneously. These membranes develop an inflammation which may beginto manifest itself in the second or third week of radiotherapy. Any inflammation causes redness, swelling and particularly pain, which mainly affect the patient while eating. In case such symptoms occur, the patient should notify the nursing staff. The nursing staff will coordinate further treatment and care, for example the prescription of a painkiller, with the doctor.

Diarrheoa and "Radiation Hangover"

With radiotherapy in the stomach and abdomen areas, side effects often include diarrhoea. Treatment of the rectum often causes increased urge to defecate (however, without the actual defecation). Such symptoms are also caused by inflammation in the treated intestinal area as a result of the radiotherapy. Occasionally, patients who receive radiation targeting the intestinal area may feel slightly nauseous an hour or two after treatment. This frequently occurs at the start of a radiotherapy course during the first sessions and is also known as “radiation hangover”. Such symptoms mostly disappear after one to two weeks of treatment and can be easily treated with medication. Such symptoms should also be discussed with the specialisednursing staff.

Individual Reactions are Difficult to Predict

In general, the severity of the side effects varies from individual to individual and dependson the volume and type of radiotherapy. Each person reactsslightly differently to the treatments and unfortunately it is impossible to predict which side effects mightactually occur.

   

 

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