Radiation therapy may involve side effects, and symptoms can vary depending on the area treated. For example, a breast cancer patient may notice skin irritation on her chest, like a mild to moderate sunburn, while a patient with cancer in the mouth may have soreness when he swallows. Some patients who are having their midsection treated may report feeling sick to their stomach or diarrhea. I will be focusing on skin changes and self- care tips for patients receiving radiation therapy.
About 60% of patients diagnosed with cancer will receive radiation therapy. Some will experience side effects of radiation. Radiation in high doses damages cancer cells by interfering with the cell’s ability to grow and reproduce. However, normal cells of the surrounding tissue can also be affected, leading to side effects.
Side effects only occur in the area of the body that is receiving the radiation. The severity depends on your dose of radiation, whether you’re also receiving chemotherapy and the side of the treatment field.
Read how to manage a wide range of side effects, such as fatigue, skin changes and mouth sores, in the summer issue of Thrive. Continue reading →
In the pursuit of malignant tumor cells, normal tissues and organs get caught in the crossfire of cancer treatment. This has been especially true of the heart. In earlier decades, radiation to the chest could carry deadly cardiovascular risks. Newer treatment methods, however, are putting the odds in patients’ favor.
Lori Jo Pierce, M.D.
“Technological advances now allow doctors to minimize cardiovascular risks of radiation therapy,” says Lori Jo Pierce, M.D., a U-M professor of radiation oncology. Her research focuses on the use of radiation therapy in the multi-modality treatment of breast cancer. Dr. Pierce is participating in the Cancer Center’s 2013 Breast Cancer Summit 2013 as a panel speaker on “Research: What questions are we trying to answer?”
Dr. Pierce recently talked with mCancer Partner about how technological advances help to minimize cardiovascular risks to breast cancer patients, and gave a research update on a related study.
mCancer Partner: Who is at risk for radiation associated heart disease?
Dr. Pierce: Anyone who is receiving radiation to the chest could be at risk for radiation-associated heart disease so it is important to shield the heart from the radiation beam. Patients treated with radiation for Hodgkin’s disease in the past were potentially at risk for cardiac disease depending upon the location of the blocks used to protect the heart. Women treated for left sided breast cancer are carefully monitored and planning is done to minimize the heart from being in the radiation field as they, too, could be at risk. Continue reading →
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