Managing Side Effects

Managing Side Effects

SideEffectsPatients often experience little or no side effects from radiation therapy and are able to continue their normal routines. However, some patients do feel some discomfort from the treatment. Be sure to talk to a member of your radiation oncology treatment team about any problems you may have.

Many of the side effects of radiation therapy are related to the area that is being treated. For example, a breast cancer patient may notice skin irritation, like a mild to moderate sunburn, while a patient with cancer in the mouth may have soreness when swallowing. These side effects are usually temporary and can be treated by your doctor or other members of the treatment team.

Side effects usually begin by the second or third week of treatment, and they may last for several weeks after the final radiation treatment. In rare instances, serious side effects develop after radiation therapy is finished. Your radiation oncologist and radiation oncology nurse are the best people to advise you about the side effects you may experience. Talk with them about any side effects you are having. They can give you information about how to manage them and may prescribe medicines that can help relieve your symptoms.

The side effect most often reported by patients receiving radiation is fatigue. The fatigue patients experience is usually not very severe, and patients can often continue all or some of their normal daily activities with a reduced schedule. Many patients continue to work full time during radiation therapy.

Many patients are concerned that radiation therapy will cause another cancer. In fact, the risk of developing a second tumor because of radiation therapy is very low. For many patients, radiation therapy can cure your cancer. This benefit far outweighs the very small risk that the treatment could cause a later cancer. If you smoke, the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of a second cancer is quit smoking.

Continue Watching

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients at Lakeland Health

Benjamin Gielda, Radiation Oncologist discusses new treatment option for breast cancer available at Lakeland Health.

Physician Video Profile: Peter Lai, MD, PhD

Introducting Dr. Peter Lai, a radiation oncologist with Lakeland Radiation Oncology at Lakeland Health.

Provider Video Profile: Meredith Krugh, NP (Oncology)

Meredith Krugh, an oncology nurse practitioner is providing care at Lakeland Cancer Specialists, in St. Joseph and Niles.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy: Kellie Tyler "Catching Cancer Early"

Breast cancer survivor, Kellie Tyler, shares her experience undergoing Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) treatment.

Check-Up: Catching Colon Cancer Early (Craig Kline, MD, General Surgery)

General surgeon, Craig Kline shares how colonoscopies can detect and remove polyps which may lead to colon cancer.

IORT: New Option for Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Lakeland physicians are now using the ZEISS INTRABEAM® intraoperative therapy system to deliver a targeted single-dose of radiation to the site of the breast cancer tumor, after a Lumpectomy.

Physician Video Profile: Peter Paximadis, MD (Radiation Oncology)

Radiation Oncologist, Peter Paximadis provides radiation therapy to cancer patients at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph

"Paint Our Towns Pink" Dance Video 2013

New Cancer-Fighting Technology at Lakeland

Marie Yeager Cancer Center Virtual Tour

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2019