When you have radiation treatment for cancer, your body goes through some changes.
About 2 weeks after your first treatment:
Most of these changes should go away 4 - 6 weeks after the radiation treatment is over.
You may notice changes in the way your breast looks or feels (if you are getting radiation after a lumpectomy). These changes include:
When you have radiation treatment, a health care provider draws colored markings on your skin. Do not remove them. These show where to aim the radiation. If they come off, do not redraw them. Tell your doctor if they come off. These must stay there until your treatments are done.
Take care of the treatment area:
Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any break or opening in your skin. Do not put heating pads or ice bags on the treatment area. Wear loose-fitting clothing.
Do not wear a bra, or wear a loose-fitting bra with no underwire. Ask your doctor about wearing your breast prosthesis, if you have one.
You need to eat enough protein and caloriesto keep your weight up.
Tips to make eating easier:
Ask your doctor about liquid food supplements. These can help you get enough calories. If pills are hard to swallow, try crushing them and mixing them with some ice cream or another soft food.
Watch out for these signs of edema (swelling) in your arm.
Ask your doctor or nurse about exercises you can do to keep your arm moving freely.
Most people who get radiation treatment begin to feel tired after a few days. If you feel tired:
Radiation - breast - 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.
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.
Davidson N. Breast cancer and benign breast disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed.Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 204.
Updated by: A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Linda 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 (6/5/2012).
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