Radiation - Side Effects

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Did you experience side effects from your radiation therapy? What were they?

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What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

With radiation therapy, the side effects depend on the treatment dose and the part of the body that is treated. The most common side effects are tiredness and skin reactions (such as a rash or redness, permanent pigmentation, and scarring) in the treated area. Radiation therapy can cause inflammation of tissues and organs in and around the body site radiated. This can cause symptoms that depend on what organs are affected and to what degree. For example, radiation can inflame skin to cause a burn or permanent pigmentation. It can also irritate the colon and cause diarrhea. Radiation therapy can also cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells, which help protect the body against infection.

Although the side effects of radiation therapy can be unpleasant, they can usually be treated or controlled. It also helps to know that, in most cases, they are not permanent. Again, the possible side effects of radiation therapy depend on the location and the amount of radiation.

Return to Radiation Therapy

See what others are saying

Comment from: houston2sandiego, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 23

I was diagnosed with a thymoma 12/2011 that also invaded the left auricle of the heart 3 years ago. I had surgery to remove the tumor and then I had 35 radiation treatments and had no substantial side effects. It was a very difficult situation for the radiation oncologist due to the heart issue but I came through it very well. One minor side effect was the fatigue, but I was still able to drive myself to the treatment each time. My recent annual check-up (1/2014) showed no re-occurrence. Hope this helps someone going through this; don't give up... there is an 86% recovery rate for this cancer.

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Comment from: Lynn, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: February 17

My husband had total nodal irradiation for Hodgkin's lymphoma 34 years ago when he was 28 years old. He had no further issues whatsoever until two years ago when he required an aortic valve replacement that his surgeon thought could possibly be attributable to the radiation therapy. Recently my husband has started to have significant shortness of breath with mild to moderate activity. We await a pulmonology consult, which is my reason for visiting this site today. The more research I do ahead of these appointments, the better our ability to ask the appropriate questions, and understand the answers.

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