radiotherapy is known as the specific number of treatments given over time intervals. The main purpose of radiotherapy is to destroy the affected cancer cells without harming the surrounding unaffected tissues. Radiation therapy may be treated as the main course treatment or as an effective supportive therapy.
Radiation therapy is classified as External-beam radiation therapy and Internal radiation therapy. Three-dimensional con formal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), Proton beam therapy, Stereo tactic radiation therapy are the four types of External-beam radiation therapy. The another form of radiation therapy is palliative radiation therapy. When it is not possible to eliminate the cancer thoroughly, palliative radiation therapy is used to contract tumors and reduce pain, pressure and other worst symptoms of cancer.
Radiotherapy attacks the cancer cells in the affected area of the body. But the treatment also affects some of the healthy cells nearby. Actually radiotherapy does not affect people in same ways, for each people it is different. So, it is not possible to predict the exact side effects you will face. Some people will face only mild side effects but may be for others it will be more acute.
Radiotherapy side effects :
You can categorized the radiotherapy side effects as common side effects and long term side effects.
A week or a couple of week after treating with radiotherapy, the treated area of your skin may become red or bruised. It is common side effect of radiotherapy. This effect may lasts for a couple of weeks or less.
You should not agitate your skin further as it will take more time for healing. Protect your skin from sunburn, chlorinated water, wet shaving, tight synthetic fiver clothing, perfume etc.
Nausea and Tiredness
some people feel sick during, or for a short time after, treated with radiotherapy. Specially when you will be treated in the lower abdominal area, sickness will engulf you more. Proper medication will give you comfort.
Treatment with radiotherapy may cause the damage of red blood cells, that is responsible for being tired or fatigued during or after radiotherapy. Actually your body will try to reform the damaged cells caused by radiotherapy and thus you will fill tired.
Effects on sex and Infertility
Lack of eagerness in sex after radiotherapy is a common factor. your sex urge may stumble due to radiotherapy. when you will be treated in your lower abdominal area (if you are a female), you may discover that the vaginal space is narrowing after treatment and your vagina may sore. A possibility of infertility may occur due to to treatment in pelvic area.
In case of men, erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and lack of eagerness in sex may occur as a a result of radiotherapy treatment. Diarrhoea and lower abdominal pain is also a common side effect of radio therapy in pelvic area.
If you are treated with radiotherapy in your head then definitely some hair loss will take place. It is the local hair loss, that means only the area which is treated,will be affected. Also there is a rare chance of permanent beard growth loss depending upon the position and intensity of the radiotherapy beam.
That hair loss is purely temporary and not permanent. After few weeks your hair will come back but it may re-come with different colour and texture.
Voice change and Difficulty in Swallowing
Chest radiotherapy can affect temporarily the tube through which food and water passes. So you may fill some temporary discomfort during swallowing the food or water. Proper medication will cure this and some restrictions you have to follow such as avoiding alcohol and acidic drink, hot and spicy foods after treatment.
radiotherapy treatment for larynx cancer can cause the temporary or permanent voice change. Radio therapy treatment for head or neck can also cause this.
Some another radiotherapy side effects are Lymphoedema, Anaemia, shortening in breath etc.
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