When you have radiation treatment for cancer, your body goes through some changes.
Two weeks after radiation treatment starts, you might have changes in your skin. Your skin and mouth may turn red, your skin might start to peel or get dark, or your skin may itch.
Most of these symptoms will go away after your treatments have stopped. Your hair will begin to fall out about 2 weeks after radiation treatment starts. It may not grow back.
Do not remove the colored markings on your skin. These show where to aim the radiation. If they come off, do not redraw them. Tell your doctor if they come off.
If you wear a wig or toupee:
Skin care of the treatment area:
Ask your doctor for medicine if your scalp gets very dry and flaky or if it gets red or tanned. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any break or opening in your skin.
Stay out of the sun, even when your treatments are done.
Do not put heating pads or ice bags on the treatment.
Do not put heating pads or ice bags on the treatment area. Keep the treated area in the open air as much as possible. But, stay away from very hot or cold temperatures and direct sun.
Do not swim during treatment. Ask your doctor when you can start swimming after treatment.
You need to eat enough protein and calories to keep your weight up. See also: Eating extra calories when you are sick - adults
Ask your doctor about liquid food supplements. These can help you get enough calories.
Do not eat sugary snacks that may cause tooth decay.
Most people who get radiation treatment begin to feel tired after a few days. If you feel tired:
You may be taking a medicine called dexamethasone (Decadron) while you are getting radiation to the brain.
Your doctor may check your blood counts regularly, especially if the radiation treatment area on your body is large.
Radiation - brain - discharge
Sharma RA, Vallis KA, McKenna WG. Basics of radiation therapy. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 29.
Deangelis LM. Tumors of the Central Nervous System and Intracranial Hypertension and Hypotension In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 195.
Perry MC. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 182.
Updated by: LinLinda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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