When you have radiation treatment for cancer, your body goes through changes.
About 2 weeks after your first radiation treatment:
Women may have:
Both men and women may lose interest in sex.
When you have radiation treatment, color markings are drawn 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 instead.
Take care of the treatment area.
Tell your health care provider if you have any breaks or openings in your skin.
Wear loose-fitting clothing around your stomach and pelvis.
Keep the buttocks and pelvic area clean and dry.
Drink plenty of liquids: 6 to 8 cups (1.5 to 2 liters) a day. But avoid orange juice, grapefruit juice, and other citrus juices.
Your provider may place you on a low-residue diet that limits the amount of roughage you eat. You need to eat enough protein and calories to keep your weight up. Ask your provider about liquid food supplements. These can help you get enough calories.
DO NOT take a laxative. Ask your doctor about medicines to help with diarrhea or the need to urinate often.
You may feel tired after a few days. If so:
Watch out for early signs of lymphedema (fluid build-up). Tell your doctor if you have:
It is normal to have less interest in sex during and right after radiation treatments end. Your interest in sex will probably come back after your treatment is over and your life returns to normal.
Women who get radiation treatment in their pelvic areas may have shrinking or tightening of the vagina. Your provider will advise you about using a dilator, which can help gently stretch vaginal walls.
Your provider may check your blood counts regularly, especially if the radiation treatment area on your body is large.
Doroshow JH. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 179.
National Cancer Institute. Radiation therapy and you: Support for people with cancer. Updated May 2007. www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/radiationttherapy.pdf. Accessed March 20, 2016.
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