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Recovery after radiotherapy

Dear Patients!

We are doing everything possible for you to undergo radiation treatment successfully and restore the body after it.

Read the recommendations that should be followed after the treatment, as well as information about the possible side effects after radiation therapy and monitoring.

After treatment side effects may occur: radiation reactions usually pass after the end of treatment. However and unfortunately, radiation complications are also possible due to the increased sensitivity of your body to radiation, the peculiarity of tumor growth and the need to bring a high dose of ionizing radiation to achieve positive results.

Radiation therapy also has so-called cumulative or accumulated side effects, which do not appear immediately, but over time after a certain number of irradiation procedures.

Radiation therapy like any type of treatment can be accompanied by general and local side effects. These phenomena can be acute (short-term, occurring during treatment) and chronic (several weeks or even years after the end of treatment).

Side effects of radiotherapy most often occur in tissues and organs that have been directly irradiated. Most of the side effects that occur during treatment are relatively mild and can be treated with medication or proper nutrition. They usually disappear within three weeks after the end of radiation therapy. Many patients have no side effects at all.

Emotional condition

Almost all patients who are being treated for cancer have some emotional stress. Most often there is a feeling of depression, fear, longing, loneliness, aggression. As the general condition improves these emotional manifestations decrease.

We recommend chatting with family members and friends. Do not lock yourself. Try to take part in the life of people around you, help them and not refuse their help. Talk to a psychologist. Perhaps the specialist will recommend some additional methods of stress relief.

Fatigue. A feeling of fatigue usually begins to be felt a few weeks after the start of treatment. It is associated with significant physical stress on the body during treatment and stress. Therefore, during radiation therapy you should slightly reduce the overall activity, especially if you are used to work at a busy pace. However, do not completely get rid of household chores, take part in family life.

Changes in the blood. When irradiating significant areas of the body the number of leukocytes, platelets and red blood cells in the blood may temporarily decrease. It is necessary to control the function of blood formation: please, donate your blood for analysis during the first month after treatment once a week.

Decreased appetite. Radiotherapy usually does not cause nausea or vomiting. However, a deterioration in appetite may be observed. You must understand that you need to eat enough food to repair damaged tissue.

List of possible side effects

Side effects on the oral cavity and throat

If you are exposed to the maxillofacial area or neck, the mucous membrane of the gums, mouth and throat may redden and become inflamed in some cases, and dry mouth can appear.

You can alleviate your condition if you follow these recommendations.

Stop smoking and drinking alcohol during treatment as they also cause irritation and dryness of the oral mucosa.
Rinse your mouth at least 6 times a day (after sleep, after each meal, in the evening). The rinse should have room temperature or chilled. Ask your doctor about the rinse of oral cavity.
Brush your teeth with a soft brush or cotton swab (rinse the brush thoroughly and store it dry after using). Do it twice a day, gently, without pressing hard.
Consult your dentist about the right toothpaste. It should not be harsh and irritate the mucous membrane.
Remove dentures before each radiation therapy session. It is better to abandon using prostheses in case of rubbing the gums.

Side effects on the mammary gland

When conducting radiation therapy on breast tumors, the most common side effects are skin changes. Pain and swelling can occur in the area of the mammary gland, after completion of treatment, it will disappear or gradually decrease. Irradiated gland can sometimes increase (as a result of fluid accumulation) or decrease (due to tissue fibrosis). In some cases these deformations can last a lifetime. Radiation therapy can also lead to impaired movement in the shoulder.

Avoid lifting weights (more than 6-7 kg), vigorous movements and movements that require considerable effort (pushing, pulling), as well as carrying a bag over your shoulder on the side of the irradiated mammary gland.

Do not allow measuring blood pressure, as well as injecting (taking blood) into the arm on the side of the exposure.
Do not wear jewelry that fits snugly on this arm.
In case of accidental damage to the skin of the hand, treat the wound with alcohol (but not with alcohol tincture of iodine!). And cover the wound with a bactericidal plaster or bandage.
Protect your hand from sunlight.
Maintain your optimal weight by eating a balanced diet low in salt and high in fiber.

Side effects on the chest organs

After taking a course of radiation therapy your swallowing process may be complicated due to radiation inflammation of the esophagus’ mucous membrane. You can make it easier to eat if you eat more often in small portions, diluting thick foods and cutting solid foods into small pieces. Before eating you can swallow a small piece of butter to facilitate swallowing.

Side effects on the rectum

Pain and spotting may appear during the radiation treatment of the rectum, especially with complicated bowel movements. It is necessary to prevent constipation in order to prevent or reduce these phenomena from the first days of treatment. During the first week you need dietary nutrition (table 4-5). Take food more often in small portions (up to 4-5 times a day). It should be boiled or steamed and mashed. It is necessary to exclude fried, salty, spicy, sour. Exclude milk products when you have bloating or diarrhea. You can eat vegetarian soups with light meat or fish broth, mashed cereals, jelly, steam dishes of low-fat meat in the form of knelles, souffle, meatballs, meatballs, mashed potatoes, low-fat boiled fish, wheat bread from higher grades of flour (preferably in the form of crackers) fresh cottage cheese.

Allowed:

  • blueberries, bird cherry, rosehip, ripe pears, pomegranates, non-acid apples decoctions;
  • strong tea;
  • cocoa without milk;
  • black coffee;
  • red dessert wine.
  • Most patients tolerate 2-3 eggs not boiled cool or steam omelet.

It is recommended to limit sugar and use butter in ready-made dishes.

Side effects that may occur when irradiating the bones of the limbs, spine, pelvic bones and other areas of the skeleton

Fragility (fragility) of the bone (mainly limb bones), a decrease in blood counts, muscle soreness. There are reactions of the mucous membranes of the esophagus and intestines, depending on part of the body where the bones are irradiated. Skin reactions in the irradiated areas are also possible.

Side effects on the bladder

Radiation therapy sometimes causes inflammation of the bladder mucous membrane. This can lead to frequent painful urination and fever. Urine turns red occasionally. If you notice such symptoms, be sure to inform the urologist. These complications require special treatment.

Irradiated skin care

It is necessary to protect the irradiated skin from injuries and sunlight after completion of treatment. Be sure to lubricate the irradiated areas 2-3 times a day with a nourishing cream even when they healed after treatment. Try to minimize skin irritation. Give preference to the shower rather than taking a bath. Do not use cold or hot water. When showering do not rub exposed skin with a washcloth. You can use Vitaon oil, soft cream, Lux and Rescuer ointment.

If irritation of the exposed skin persists for a long time, consult your doctor. He will prescribe you the appropriate treatment.

Intimate relationship

Radiation therapy does not have a pronounced effect on sexual activity in most cases. The interest to intimate relationships is declining because of general physical weakness and stress. Therefore, do not avoid intimate relationships, it is an important part of a fulfilling life. Hugs, kisses and intimate relationships will not hurt you and your partner.

Examination after treatment

It is very important to check the results of treatment periodically after completing a course of radiotherapy. Follow-up examinations should be regularly performed by a radiologist: during the first year after treatment, once every three months; during the second year, once every six months; further examinations 1 time per year.

Discharging from TomoClinic doctor will schedule an initial follow-up visit and schedule a follow-up appointment for you. If necessary, specialists of our center will prescribe you further treatment or rehabilitation procedures.

We do not leave the patient alone with the disease, we are always there!

You can contact our center with any questions:

by calling to our hot line 0800 30 15 03, it is free of charge from mobile and landline phones in Ukraine;
by telephone numbers of our center: (0522) 301 503 or +380 (98) 860 09 90 – for calls within Ukraine or from abroad;
e-mail: info@tomocenter.com.ua

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TomoClinic works as follows:

Monday till Friday: from 8:00 to 22:00;

Saturday: from 8:00 to 15:00.

We are in touch and are always happy to help.

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