Modern radiation therapy and its consequences are significantly different from previous generations. Not only the devices, but also the methods of delivering radiation dose to the target (tumor).
Now radiation therapy is performed with visualization of tumor localizations. The accuracy of ionizing radiation targeting is calculated so that the tissues and organs near the tumor are practically unaffected.
Outdated radiotherapy devices do not have the technological capability to secure organs and tissues close to the tumor. The skin take 40% of the radiation dose while remote radiation therapy is performed on cobalt machines. It leads to severe and prolonged post-radiation reactions.
This article describes possible short-term reactions of organs after modern radiation therapy.
Throat and oral cavity possible reactions
If you are exposed to treat the maxillofacial area or neck, redness and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the gums, mouth and throat may occur in some cases, as well as dry mouth.
You can improve your well-being by following these recommendations:
Give up smoking and alcohol during treatment as they also cause irritation and dryness of the oral mucosa.
Rinse your mouth at least 6 times a day (after sleeping, after every meal, before going to bed). The rinse solution must be at room temperature or cooled. Ask your doctor about the best solutions to rinse your oral cavity.
Gently brush your teeth twice a day with a soft brush or a cotton swab (rinse it thoroughly after using and keep dry).
Consult a dentist to find the toothpaste you need. It should not irritate the mucous membrane.
If you are using dentures, take them off before a radiotherapy session. If the dentures are rubbing, refuse using them at all for some period.
Possible breast reactions
Skin changes are the most common side effects when performing radiation therapy for breast tumors. Under the influence of radiation therapy you can have pain and swelling in the breast, but it disappear or gradually decrease after the end of treatment.
Irradiated mammary gland can sometimes increase (due to fluid accumulation) or decrease (due to tissue fibrosis). In some cases these breast changes can persist for a later life. Radiation therapy can lead to worsening of shoulder mobility.
Avoid lifting heavy objects (more than 6-7 kg), fast movements and movements that require considerable effort (pushing, thrust) and carrying the bag over your shoulder on the side of the exposed breast.
Do not allow blood pressure to be measured or injections (taking blood) into the arm on the irradiation side.
Do not wear tight fitting jewelry on this hand.
In case of accidental damage to the skin of the hand please treat the wound with alcohol (but not alcohol tincture of iodine!) and use a bactericidal patch or bandage.
Protect your hand from sunlight.
Maintain your optimal weight through a balanced diet low in salt and high in fiber.
Possible reactions of the chest organs
After undergoing radiation therapy you may have difficulty swallowing due to radiation inflammation of the mucous esophagus.
You can make it easier to eat if you:
- eat more often;
- take small portions;
- diluting thick food and cutting the solid food into small pieces.
You also can swallow a small piece of butter before eating to facilitate swallowing.
Possible rectum reactions
Radiotherapy of the rectum may bring some pain and bleeding, especially with complicated bowel movements. It is necessary to prevent constipation from the first days of treatment in order to prevent or reduce these effects.
During the first week you should start the diet (table 4-5). Eat more often, in small portions, up to 4-5 times a day. The food should be boiled or steamed and grated.
It is necessary to exclude fried, salty, spicy, sour food.
If there is bloating or diarrhea, you should exclude dairy products. You can take vegetarian soups with low-fat meat or fish broth, porridges, sours, steamed dishes of low-fat meats in the form of cinnamon, souffle, meatballs, cutlet, puree, low-fat boiled fish, wheat bread from the highest grades of flour (preferably breadcrumbs), fresh cheese.
What to use:
- decoctions of blueberries, cherries, rose hips, ripe pears, pomegranates, sour apples;
- strong tea;
- cocoa on water;
- black coffee;
- Cahors as a wine.
Most patients tolerate 2-3 well-cooked eggs and steamed omelets.
It is recommended to limit sugar intake and to use butter in ready meals.