Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
How Can I Lessen Skin Reactions?
- Gently cleanse the treated area using lukewarm water and a mild soap such as Ivory, Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, or Aveeno Oatmeal Soap. Do not rub your skin. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel, or use a hair dryer on a cool setting.
- Do not scratch or rub the treated area.
- Do not apply any ointment, cream, lotion, or powder to the treated area unless your doctor or nurse has prescribed it.
- Do not apply cosmetics, shaving lotions, perfumes, or deodorants on the treated area.
- Use only an electric razor if you need to shave within the treated area.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothing or harsh fabrics like wool or corduroy. Instead, choose clothes made from natural fibers like cotton.
- Do not apply medical tape or bandages on the treated area.
- Avoid extreme heat or cold where you've had radiation. Don't use an electric heating pad, hot water bottle, or ice pack.
- Avoid direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., even after your course of treatment has been completed. It can intensify skin reactions and lead to severe sunburn. Choose a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, too.
Will Radiation Make Me Tired?
Everyone has a different level of energy, so radiation affects each person differently. Many people feel fatigued after several weeks of treatment. Most often, this is a mild feeling of being tired. But some people feel more fatigued and need to change their daily routines.
If your doctor thinks you should limit your activities, he or she will discuss it with you.
To preserve your energy during radiation treatments:
- Get enough rest.
- Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
- Pace your activities, and plan frequent rest periods.
Who Can I Talk to About My Treatments?
Your doctor can answer questions about side effects, the goals of your treatment, and how the cancer is responding to radiation.
A hospital social worker can discuss your feelings about cancer, family concerns, financial issues, and other aspects of your personal situation. You may also get help with housing or transportation.
Great support and practical tips can come from talking with other people with cancer. Ask your doctor or social worker how to find good support groups near you or online.