Side effects of radiation therapy for breast cancer

What are the most common side effects of radiation therapy?

Early and late effects of radiation therapy The most common early side effects are fatigue (feeling tired) and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area.

What are the long term side effects of radiation for breast cancer?

Long – term side effects can last beyond a year after treatment . They may include a slight darkening of your skin, enlarged pores on your breast , more or less sensitive skin, thickening of breast tissue or skin, and a change in the size of the breast .

How long is a radiation treatment for breast cancer?

You will likely get radiation therapy as an outpatient at a hospital or other treatment facility. A common treatment schedule (course) includes one radiation treatment a day, five days a week (usually Monday through Friday), for about five to six weeks.

How do you feel after radiotherapy for breast cancer?

You may feel very tired during or after your treatment . Travelling to and from hospital can be tiring. However, many people find they can still manage their daily tasks as usual and some continue to work throughout their treatment . Fatigue (extreme tiredness) is a very common side effect of cancer treatment .

Is radiation worse than chemo?

Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die. This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body.

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Does radiation weaken your immune system?

Radiation therapy can potentially affect your immune system , especially if a significant amount of bone marrow is being irradiated because of its role in creating white blood cells. However, this doesn’t typically suppress the immune system enough to make you more susceptible to infections.

What happens to your breast after radiation?

The main short-term side effects of external beam radiation therapy to the breast are: Swelling in the breast . Skin changes in the treated area similar to a sunburn (redness, skin peeling, darkening of the skin) Fatigue.

Can I skip radiation after lumpectomy?

For both diseases, investigators have tried to identify subgroups of patients who can be “safely” treated with lumpectomy without radiation . Some data suggest that it may be reasonable to omit radiation therapy in patients with small, low-grade invasive or noninvasive tumors and/or in “elderly” patients.

Does breast cancer radiation weaken your immune system?

Certain cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, stem cell or bone marrow transplant, or steroids) or the cancer itself can suppress or weaken the immune system . These treatments can lower the number of white blood cells (WBCs) and other immune system cells.

At what stage of cancer is radiotherapy used?

Radiotherapy may be used in the early stages of cancer or after it has started to spread. It can be used to: try to cure the cancer completely (curative radiotherapy) make other treatments more effective – for example, it can be combined with chemotherapy or used before surgery (neo-adjuvant radiotherapy)

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What can you not do during radiation treatment?

Foods to avoid or reduce during radiation therapy include sodium (salt), added sugars, solid (saturated) fats, and an excess of alcohol. Some salt is needed in all diets.

How long can you delay radiation after lumpectomy?

Post-surgical radiotherapy is designed to destroy remaining cancer cells following the removal of a localized breast tumor. Punglia said four to six weeks after surgery is widely viewed as a safe interval for beginning radiotherapy, which typically is administered five days a week for six weeks.

Will my breast shrink after radiation?

Breast changes: The breasts may shrink or become more dense after radiation . Some women have reported problems breastfeeding. Brachial plexopathy: Radiation to the breast or chest wall can sometimes damage the nerves that run through the arm, wrist, and hand.

Will I lose weight during radiation?

Appetite: While it is important to try not to lose weight during treatment, the side effects of radiation to certain areas of the body may make it difficult to eat and digest.

How long does fatigue last after radiation for breast cancer?

Radiation can give you fatigue that gets worse over time (called cumulative fatigue). It usually lasts 3 to 4 weeks after your treatment stops, but it can continue for up to 3 months. Hormone therapy deprives the body of estrogen, and that can lead to fatigue that may last throughout your treatment or longer.

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