Cancer is one of the most challenging things a person can go through. The disease itself is debilitating, but the treatments can be just as challenging. Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers account for around 43 per cent of all cancers.
Radiation therapy is a standard cancer treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. While it is a highly effective treatment, understanding the side effects of radiation treatment is essential. This article will discuss five ways to manage the side effects caused by radiation therapy.
1) Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
When you have IMRT, the radiation beams can be adjusted to match the tumour’s shape. It means that healthy tissue receives less radiation. IMRT is usually given over several weeks and has fewer side effects than other types of radiation therapy.
Here’s how it works:
The radiation therapist uses a computer to create a plan that shows the shape and size of the tumour. They also figure out how much radiation you need.
IMRT is given with a machine called a linear accelerator. The machine moves around you and sends out beams of high-energy X-rays. These x-rays kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
You might hear IMRT called by its other names: conformity radiation therapy, intensity-modulated photon therapy, or intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
One of the great things about radiation therapy is that it can be delivered in small, daily doses (called fractions) over several weeks. It means that your healthy cells have time to recover in between treatments.
Fractionation also helps to reduce side effects because each dose of radiation is lower than if you had one large dose all at once.
If you have radiation therapy, ask your radiation oncologist how many fractions you will need and the schedule.
3) Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is essential for managing the side effects of radiation therapy. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Drinking water is also essential to stay hydrated and flush out toxins from your body.
If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, it is essential to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Avoiding spicy or greasy foods can also help to reduce these symptoms. If you are having trouble eating due to mouth sores, try soft, bland foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
One of the common side effects of radiation therapy is skin irritation. Keep the area clean and dry, and apply a moisturiser or lotion. Contact your doctor for treatment options if you develop a rash, blisters, or open sores.
You can use skin care products like lip balm, sunscreen, and aloe vera gel to help soothe your skin.
Be sure to follow all instructions from your radiation oncologist about how to care for your skin during treatment.
Lastly, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage specific side effects. For example, they may recommend anti-nausea or pain medications.
It’s essential to take all medications as prescribed and let your care team know if you have any concerns.
Radiation therapy is a standard cancer treatment that can be very effective. Your radiation oncologist and support team will help you understand radiation treatment better.