Radioth Therapy Limiting Side Effects

Radiation Therapy: Limiting Side Effects: Effects on Skin and Organs

> Irritation of the skin

Rays can cause skin reactions, such as acute radiodermatitis. These radiodermatitis usually appear between the 5th and the 10th day of radiotherapy.

The skin is irritated, it can become red and sensitive as in cases of sunburn, itch, or even present desquamation and evolve to fibrosis (hardening of the skin).

The radiation therapist can then propose an appropriate local treatment depending on the importance of the reaction and the skin condition in order to soothe the patient. For example, sweet almond oil when the lesions are not very important, or a dermato-corticoid for more intense reactions.

Attenuation: take the cream or lotion recommended by the radiation therapist, and not a product of your choice.

> Chronic radiodermatitis

Unlike acute radiodermatitis, this chronic form occurs about six months after the end of radiotherapy, most often in patients who smoke. We can also see phenomena of vascular dilation (telangiectasia): small red and purple vessels become visible in the treated area.

This radiodermatitis can, in certain cases, evolve into fibrosis. But these effects are mostly aesthetic. Ointments soften the skin slightly, although chronic radiodermatitis is usually difficult to treat.

> Fatigue

The decrease of tone is not systematic. In case of very localized irradiation, for example in the breast alone, no fatigue is to be feared. But if the irradiation is extended, after a few sessions, you may feel exhausted. This fatigue will disappear when the treatment is stopped. The only solution here: adapt your activities and lifestyle during the few weeks of radiotherapy.

Effects according to the treated area

Other possible side effects vary depending on the area being treated.

> The basin

Urinary disorders, episodes of diarrhea, pain during sex ... It is still not easy to find solutions to these problems. Only "adjustments" to your lifestyle will improve your comfort. For example, for diarrhea, the radiation therapist will recommend a fiber-free diet and prescribe anti-diarrheal medications.

> The abdomen

The regions of the stomach and intestine may be affected by radiation. As a result, you may suffer from disorders such as vomiting or nausea. Anti-nausea medications will be prescribed. But it is better to avoid eating a few hours before and after the radiation therapy session.

> The mouth, neck, thorax

Radiation therapy can cause difficulty swallowing, swallowing, lack of saliva and loss of appetite. The doctor may prescribe suitable mouthwashes, artificial saliva, and symptomatic treatment for esophageal or stomach problems.

But again, the patient can act on a daily basis by avoiding acidic foods, alcohol and tobacco (of course!), And by promoting the salivation process by chewing gum. The lack of saliva, once the radiotherapy is over, tends to persist ... depending on the importance of the salivary glands destroyed by radiation. Patients will often have with them a bottle of water, a chewing gum in their mouths.

> The head

The rays may cause temporary hair loss if the tumor is benign and radiotherapy poorly dosed, or definitive in case of primary brain tumor, treated with larger doses.

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