Monday, March 30, 2009 | 4:36 am

Radiation Therapy and Pain

The actual session of radiation therapy is not painful. It is the side effects and reactions from radiation therapy that can cause associated discomfort, illness and pain. The most noticeable side effects are nausea, vomiting and damage/scarring/burning to tissues. The side effects depend largely on which area of the body is being zapped.

It is important to maintain a good diet, rich in supporting and selective nutrients to ensure that only limited reactions and side effects occur. Radiotherapy can also be very invasive to your body and therefore may cause many emotional reactions.

Radiation Therapy

Continuing your normal life during radiation therapy is totally dependent on your lifestyle and work requirements. It is advisable to take time out for yourself and relax totally during this period. Lassitude or lack of energy is a major side effect of radiotherapy, so you will definitely feel more tired than usual. The energy drop is very cumulative, tending to get worse over time. Your body requires as much support as possible to ensure rapid healing, so try not to do too much. Concentrate this time in your life for healing your body. The more rest you receive, the quicker your body will heal.

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Reaction to radiation therapy varies from patient to patient. Symptoms can range from lassitude (lack of energy), to decreased appetite, nausea, neuropathy (numbness or tingling), vomiting and temporary hair loss (if radiation is given to the head). Later reactions include inflammation due to cellular damage and symptoms vary according to the site being treated. For example, you may experience a sore throat or mouth if this area is being treated, or diarrhoea if the abdomen is being treated.

The major side effect of radiation therapy is scarring. This is a severe reaction and is unforeseeable, as doctors still do not fully understand differences in individual’s tolerance levels. Sterility is possible if the testicles or ovaries are being treated. Cancer induction is also possible, as radiation is another type of carcinogenic substance being exposed to the body. Deformity may be another risk.

Radiotherapy can cause internal bleeding and often destroys the microvilli (minute projections from the intestinal wall that are the primary site of absorption) for up to two years. It often produces toxicity and free radicals, weakens the body’s immune system, reduces white blood cell count and disrupts the body’s sodium/potassium ratio, leading to fluid retention.


(posted in Cancer | tagged Cancer)

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