How Can I Reduce Skin Reactions
- Gently cleanse the treated area using lukewarm water and a mild soap such as Ivory, Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, Castile, or Aveeno Oatmeal Soap. Do not rub. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel or use a hair dryer on a cool setting.
- Try not to scratch or rub the treated area.
- Do not apply any ointment, cream, lotion, or powder to the treated area unless your radiation oncologist or nurse has prescribed it.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothing or clothes made from harsh fabrics such as wool or corduroy. These fabrics can irritate the skin. Instead, choose clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton.
- Do not apply medical tape or bandages to the treated area.
- Do not expose the treated area to extreme heat or cold. Avoid using an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, or ice pack.
- Do not expose the treated area to direct sunlight, as sun exposure may intensify your skin reaction and lead to severe sunburn. Choose a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Protect the treated area from direct sunlight even after your course of treatment is over.
What Happens After Radiotherapy
After youve finished your radiotherapy, you will have regular check-ups to monitor your progress. This is often called follow-up. The aim is to:
- check how your cancer has responded to treatment
- help you deal with any side effects of treatment
- give you a chance to raise any concerns or ask any questions.
Your follow-up appointments will usually start two or three months after treatment. You will then have appointments every three to six months. After three years, you may have
follow-up appointments less often. Each hospital will do things slightly differently, so ask your doctor or nurse for more details about how often you will have follow-up appointments.
The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of a protein called prostate specific antigen in your blood. You will usually have a PSA test a week or two before each follow-up appointment, so the results are available at your check-up. This can often be done at your GP surgery. PSA tests are a very effective way of checking how well your treatment has worked.
After treatment, your PSA level should start to drop. Your PSA level wont fall to zero as your healthy prostate cells will continue to produce some PSA. But it could fall to about 1 ng/ml, although every man is different and your medical team will monitor your PSA level closely.
Treatment options after radiotherapy
Looking after yourself after radiotherapy
Find Or Purchase Comfortable Clothes
Your skin can become tender as radiation goes on, and loose-fitting camisoles and tops will be most comfortable. If you must wear a bra, make it a comfortable one and place a soft cloth between your bra strap and skin.
Don’t starch your blouses or shirts, and use a mild laundry detergent when washing your clothes.
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What Do I Need To Do To Get Ready For My Imrt Treatment
Getting ready for IMRT takes a great deal of planning. It can take two to three days for your radiation therapy team to plan your care. After giving you a physical exam and reviewing your medical history, your radiation oncologist will use different tools to plan your treatment. These tools will help your radiation oncologist decide the dose of radiation you need for your prostate cancer and how long your treatment will last.
Your radiation oncologist may send you to have one or more imaging tests to help plan where the radiation beams will be aimed. The imaging tests your radiation oncologist will use to plan your treatment may include:
- X-ray this test uses radiation to take a picture of the inside of your body. You may have seen a chest x-ray or x-ray pictures of your teeth or your bones.
- CT Scan is a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of your prostate cancer and the area around your prostate. You may be given contrast through an I.V. in your arm or to drink by mouth. Contrast will help your prostate cancer show up better during the CT Scan.
- MRI Scan is a test that uses a large magnet to make pictures of your prostate cancer and the area around your prostate.
- PET Scan is a test where you are given contrast before you have x-rays taken. The contrast will travel to the parts of your body where your prostate cancer is active. The x-ray will give your doctor a better picture of what your prostate cancer looks like.
Getting Ready For IMRT
Frequent Urination Burning With Urination And Difficulty Urinating
These are the most common complaints. Occasionally the urinary stream will weaken. Generally these symptoms are managed with medications to help the bladder function better or eliminate burning. Rarely, your doctor may order a urine test. Symptoms will resolve after the end of treatment. Contact your doctor if you see blood in your urine or if you are unable to urinate.
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What Foods Should I Avoid During Radiation
Foods to avoid or reduce during radiation therapy include sodium , added sugars, solid fats, and an excess of alcohol. Some salt is needed in all diets. Your doctor or dietitian can recommend how much salt you should consume based on your medical history.
In addition to foods to avoid that are listed above, spicy foods can cause gastrointestinal problems during radiation therapy. While nausea and diarrhea are symptoms of radiation therapy, spicy foods can lead to cramping, and diarrhea.
If you are receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, refrain from consuming foods that may get stuck when swallowing or those that are high in acid which can be irritating.
Possible Risks And Side Effects Of Brachytherapy
Radiation precautions: If you get permanent brachytherapy, the seeds will give off small amounts of radiation for several weeks or months. Even though the radiation doesnt travel far, your doctor may advise you to stay away from pregnant women and small children during this time. If you plan on traveling, you might want to get a doctors note regarding your treatment, as low levels of radiation can sometimes be picked up by detection systems at airports.
There’s also a small risk that some of the seeds might move . You may be asked to strain your urine for the first week or so to catch any seeds that might come out. You may be asked to take other precautions as well, such as wearing a condom during sex. Be sure to follow any instructions your doctor gives you. There have also been reports of the seeds moving through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. As far as doctors can tell, this is uncommon and doesnt seem to cause any ill effects.
These precautions arent needed after HDR brachytherapy, because the radiation doesnt stay in the body after treatment.
Bowel problems: Brachytherapy can sometimes irritate the rectum and cause a condition called radiation proctitis. Bowel problems such as rectal pain, burning, and/or diarrhea can occur, but serious long-term problems are uncommon.
To learn more, see the Radiation Therapy section of our website.
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What To Expect Radiation Therapy
Cancer treatment can be unnerving and uncomfortable, particularly before you know exactly what to expect. At DVUs Cancer Treatment Center, it is our goal to make your cancer care experience as easy and comfortable as possible for you and your loved ones. Our staff is here to answer questions, provide assurance, maximize your comfort and expedite your treatment. If we can do anything to improve the treatment process for you, please dont hesitate to ask!
Before beginning radiation therapy, youll attend a comprehensive consultation with our radiation oncologist. During this consultation, the radiation oncologist will review your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and review any radiologic studies performed as part of your cancer diagnosis. A detailed picture of the radiation treatment will then be described to you and your loved ones, including recommended number of treatments and possible side effects.
Gold or carbon markers will be placed in the prostate by your urologist to allow daily image guidance for radiation. The markers are about the size of a grain of rice and allow your radiation oncologist to precisely track the location of your prostate gland prior to daily radiation treatment. These markers are usually placed about one week prior to your planning session for radiation.
What Are The Side Effects Of External Beam Radiotherapy
Like all treatments for prostate cancer, radiotherapy can cause side effects. These will affect each man differently, and you might not get all the possible side effects. Sometimes bowel, urinary and sexual problems after radiotherapy treatment are called pelvic radiation disease.
Side effects happen when the healthy tissue near the prostate is damaged by radiotherapy. Most healthy cells recover so side effects may only last a few weeks or months. But some side effects can start months or years after treatment. These can sometimes become long-term problems. Before you start treatment, talk to your doctor, nurse or radiographer about the side effects. Knowing what to expect can help you deal with them.
If you have hormone therapy as well as radiotherapy, you may also get side effects from the hormone therapy. Read more about the side effects of hormone therapy and how you can manage them.
If youre having radiotherapy as a second treatment, and you still have side effects from your first treatment, then radiotherapy can make those side effects worse or last longer. It may also cause other side effects. The most common side effects of radiotherapy are described here.
Short-term side effects of radiotherapy
Radiotherapy can irritate the lining of the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. This can cause urinary problems, such as:
Tiredness and fatigue
Problems with ejaculation
Skin irritation and hair loss
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Top 5 Ingredients Of A Healthy Diet During Radiation Cancer Therapy
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that shrinks and destroys cancer cells. During radiation, its important to eat well. This keeps the body and its immune system strong, giving it the nutrients it needs to promote the regrowth of healthy tissues. Eating well during radiation also maintains energy, helps patients tolerate radiation side effects, lowers risks of infection, and speeds up recovery.
However, the nutrients and foods a person needs during cancer treatment vary based on the individual, how their body responds to radiation, the treatment area, and the length of treatment. While there is no one-size-fits-all radiation diet, there are some guidelines and tips that can help you find the best one during your cancer treatment.
What Will I Feel During This Procedure
Before treatment begins, the doctor may place an intravenous line into your arm or hand to deliver medication. Depending on the site of the tumor and your doctor’s recommendations, you may receive general anesthesia and/or a sedative to make you feel sleepy. If anesthesia or heavy sedation is used, you will be moved to a recovery room afterwards. Depending on the type of treatment, you may return home the same day or be moved to a hospital room.
Patients who have an afterloaded implant for temporary brachytherapy may hear a clicking or humming noise from the treatment machine. This occurs as the machine pushes the radioactive material into the treatment device previously placed at the tumor site. You will be alone during the procedure. However, you will be able to speak with your treatment team via a microphone. The team will be located nearby, where they can see and hear you. PDR treatment will allow you to have visitors between the treatment pulses. LDR treatment will require you to stay in the hospital. Visits are usually limited to about 30 minutes per visitor per day. Children and pregnant women may not visit. No radiation remains in your body after temporary brachytherapy, so there is no risk to others.
Some LDR, PDR and HDR treatments require one or more days in the hospital and may cause discomfort. This may be due to the catheters or applicators and having to stay relatively still for a prolonged period. Your doctor will prescribe medication to relieve your pain.
Diarrhea Flatulence Or Painful Defecation
These symptoms usually occur after the second or third week of treatment. Symptoms will resolve after the treatment ends. During radiation, dietary modification usually helps reduce the frequency and severity of diarrhea. Try to avoid or reduce fried foods, greasy foods and highly spiced foods. Reduce foods with insoluble fiber, such as lettuce and cauliflower, and increase low-fiber and soluable-fiber foods, such as bananas, mashed potatoes, applesauce, white rice, canned or cooked fruits and vegetables.
Maintain your intake of lean proteins, such as turkey, chicken and fish, and increase your fluid intake to avoid dehydration. Using moist toilet paper, baby wipes or sitz baths may help relieve rectal irritation. Your doctor may recommend anti-diarrheal medications. Contact your doctor if you see blood in your stool, if the diarrhea worsens or if you become light-headed or dizzy.
Proton Beam Radiation Therapy
Proton beam therapy focuses beams of protons instead of x-rays on the cancer. Unlike x-rays, which release energy both before and after they hit their target, protons cause little damage to tissues they pass through and release their energy only after traveling a certain distance. This means that proton beam radiation can, in theory, deliver more radiation to the prostate while doing less damage to nearby normal tissues. Proton beam radiation can be aimed with techniques similar to 3D-CRT and IMRT.
Although in theory proton beam therapy might be more effective than using x-rays, so far studies have not shown if this is true. Right now, proton beam therapy is not widely available. The machines needed to make protons are very expensive, and they arent available in many centers in the United States. Proton beam radiation might not be covered by all insurance companies at this time.
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Remove Devices From Your Skin
If you wear any of the following devices on your skin, the manufacturer recommends you remove it before your simulation or treatment:
- Continuous glucose monitor
- Insulin pump
Talk with your radiation oncologist about whether you may need to remove your device before your simulation or treatment. Make sure you have an extra device with you to put on after your simulation or treatment.
If youre not sure how to manage your glucose while your device is off, talk with the healthcare provider who manages your diabetes care before your appointment.
Talk To Your Radiation Oncologist About Respiratory Gating
If you have left sided breast cancer, some radiation will likely make its way to your heart, and heart disease related to radiation for breast cancer is a significant concern. Radiation has been linked with a number of different forms of heart disease ranging from valve disease, to rhythm disturbances, to coronary artery disease.
Fortunately, the technique of respiratory gating or “breath hold” can reduce the amount of radiation that hits your heart significantly. With this technique, your technician will have you hold your breath for short periods of time during each session. It is important to ask about this before beginning your treatments, as special measurements will need to be taken to be sure that inhaling air into your lungs will move your heart away from the field of radiation.
Even though research has found benefit in these techniques, not everyone is informed of this option. Make sure to be your own advocate, so that you either receive this heart-sparing technique, or at least clearly understand why it may not be needed.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation
Fatigue and skin changes are the most common side effects. Radiation therapy only affects the area of the body that is being treated. If you are in discomfort, let your care team know and they will schedule you for an appointment with the doctor or nurse. We want you to be comfortable.
The radiation doesnt hurt the only discomfort our patients report is the hard table. Patients undergoing radiation treatment typically can drive home from their treatment however, if you or your loved one are experiencing fatigue or nausea, we recommend arranging transportation.
For more information about your radiation therapy options, visit St. Elizabeth Radiation Therapy or speak with your radiation oncologist.
Additional Eating And Drinking Tips For Radiation Therapy
- Chew your food slowly. Take your time eating each small meal.
- To make sure youre getting enough calories during radiation, ask yourself, What can I add to this meal to make it more calorie-rich? Think about topping your dishes with dressings and sauces. Or, think about adding extra ingredients you can add in or on top of your dishes.
- Cook foods that smell good
- Drink beverages that are high in calories, like hot chocolate and fruit juice
- Eat foods in a stress-free relaxing setting to make eating a positive experience
- Eat every few hours vs waiting until youre hungry
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What To Do Before Radiation Therapy
If you and your doctor have decided that radiation therapy is the right option for you, you will begin with an extended meeting with your doctor or nurse to prepare. During this meeting, you will have a physical exam, talk about your medical history and potentially have some imaging tests done. You and your doctor can discuss external beam radiation therapy, the benefits and side effects during this meeting.
Get to know your full cancer care team, also called your radiation therapy team. This multi-disciplinary team usually consists of a radiation oncologist, nurse practitioner, radiation nurse, radiation therapist, and others like a dietician, physical therapist and social worker.
Prior to treatment, you will also meet with a radiation oncologist and radiation therapist to define the treatment area using scans. They might also put permanent marks dots of colored ink on your skin to mark the treatment area.
Most importantly, the team includes you and your role is very important. The best way to prepare for treatment is to increase your knowledge of the procedure and follow the guidelines set by your cancer care team.
Ask questions so you understand exactly what will happen before, during and after the treatment:
Talk about any concerns you may have regarding your treatment:
Arrive on time for all your radiation sessions