What to Expect at Home
Your body undergoes many changes when you have radiation treatment for cancer.
You may have the following side effects about 2 to 3 weeks after your first radiation treatment:
- Skin problems. The skin over the treated area may turn red, start to peel, or itch. This is rare.
- Bladder discomfort. You may have to urinate often. It may burn when you urinate. The urge to urinate may be present for a long time. Rarely, you may have loss of bladder control.
- Diarrhea and cramping in your belly, or a sudden need to empty your bowels. These symptoms can last for the duration of therapy. They often go away over time, but some people may have diarrhea flare-ups for years afterwards.
Other effects that develop later may include:
- Problems keeping or getting an erection may occur after prostate radiation therapy. You may not notice this problem until months or even a year or more after therapy is finished.
- Urinary incontinence. You may not develop or notice this problem for several months or years after radiation complete.
A health care provider will draw colored markings on your skin when you have radiation treatment. These markings show where to aim the radiation and must stay in place until your treatments are finished. If the marks come off, tell your provider. DO NOT try to redraw them yourself.
To take care of the treatment area:
- Wash gently with lukewarm water only. DO NOT scrub. Pat your skin dry.
- Ask your provider what soaps, lotions, or ointments are ok to use.
- DO NOT scratch or rub your skin.