Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Information about the potential side effects of radiation therapy treatments and how to manage them.


What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

The side effects of radiation therapy vary from patient to patient and depend upon what type of cancer you have, where your treatment doses are located, and how healthy you were prior to starting treatment. Radiation is used to kill cancer cells and may also damage healthy cells in the process. Damage to healthy cells results in side effects. 

Esophagitis

Esophagitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the esophagus that causes pain and discomfort with swallowing, or gives you the sensation of a lump in the throat. Esophagitis is a common side effect of cancer treatment that can be caused by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth, called xerostomia, may be caused by radiation therapy given to the head and neck area or by medications used to treat the cancer or side effects you are experiencing. This hand-out answers questions about and offers tips for coping with dry mouth (xerostomia) resulting from radiation treatment.

Mouth Sores

Tips for preventing mouth sores or caring for your mouth if mouth sores develop.

Taste Changes During Cancer Therapy

Taste changes can occur in people being treated for cancer with chemotherapy and/or radiation. This hand-out provides tips for managing taste changes associated with cancer and treatment.

Diarrhea After Radiation

Radiation treatment can cause harm to healthy tissues in the area being treated. When the bowel is in the treatment area, this damage can lead to ongoing diarrhea, incontinence, and urgency.

Blogs

Complementary Therapies to Reduce Side Effects of Radiation
by The 4Wholeness Team
February 21, 2017

Chemo and Radiation for Late Stage Oropharynx Cancer [Webinar]
by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
February 12, 2014

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