[toc]Radiotherapy is an integral constituent of breast cancer treatment but it’s not devoid of side effects. Radio waves are administered at the affected area.
Since there is no clear demarcation between the cancerous cells and normal cells, the normal cells around the cancerous cells also get subjected to the radio waves. Most of the side effects of radiotherapy treatment are due to the damage to the normal cells.
The good part here is that most of the side effects of the breast cancer radiotherapy treatment are temporary. Your specialist and the breast care nurse will be able to help and guide you through this period.
6 Effects Of Radiation For Breast Cancer
The feeling of tiredness is likely to set in as soon as radiotherapy is started. The amount of fatigue differs from person to person and it may depend on the extent of radiation. Some people are able to continue to work full time through this period, while for others even the hospital visit may prove to be tiring.
This happens due to the fact that the body spends a lot of energy reserves for radiotherapy. It is important for every patient to figure out their individual requirements for rest.
The skin reactions are usually mild, but may last after the treatment is over. The first onslaught on the skin can be seen after about 10-14 days of starting the treatment. The skin may peel out or become flaky in some cases, whereas in others it may become sore, red or moist.
One should be prepared for lymphedema and learn to take the necessary steps in order to get immediate relief from this problem. When the breast cancer is being treated, armpits are also given radiation if there is a spread of cancer in that area.
The lymph nodes in the armpits get swollen and become heavy causing the arms to swell. This condition warrants good care and attention because it is extremely discomforting.
Discomfort in the throat is seen only when treatment is given around the collar bane. The throat may become sore and swallowing gets hampered after the treatment. There is no need to worry much because your doctor will give you a pain relieving medicine and you’ll be able to eat comfortably soon after.
Heart problem may develop in the times to come if the left breast is affected. Those who are at risk of heart related issues, need to be monitored carefully during the radiation treatment.
The doctors change the course of treatment and give certain drugs which help in keeping the heart healthy. These days the risk of heart problems is very low due to the advancement in the technology being used in radiotherapy.
The nerves generally recover after the treatment is over, though this process is slow and gradual. The commonly seen symptoms due to nerve damage are pain and numbness in the hands and feet.
Some people feel needle pricks and poking of pins, which causes a lot of discomfort.Sometimes due to nerve damage neuropathic pain sets in, but there are certain medicines which help in looking after this nerve pain.