What to Expect From Radiation Therapy
What Can I Do About Fatigue That Results From Radiation Therapy? continued...
Sometimes, doctors can discover other causes for the fatigue. When they do, the cause can be treated. There are things you can do to make fatigue less disabling:
- Take care of your health. The level of fatigue you feel is often related to the condition of your health at the time of treatment. Review with your doctor how well you are following your treatment plan not just for cancer but for other health conditions you may have. Be sure you're taking your medications the way you're supposed to. Get plenty of rest, increase your level of physical activity, and continue to eat a nutritious diet.
- Work with a counselor or take a class offered at your cancer treatment center to learn ways to conserve energy, reduce stress, and use distraction to not focus on the fatigue.
- Prioritize your regular activities so you can do the ones that are most important to you first when you feel less fatigued.
- Maintain a balance between rest and activities. Too much bed rest can make you more fatigued. But don't over-schedule your activities without allowing time to rest.
- Talk with your family and friends and ask for their help. If fatigue is interfering with your job, discuss your situation with your employer and ask about taking some time off from work or making adjustments in your schedule.
Keep in mind that the fatigue related to radiation therapy will most likely be temporary and will pass several weeks after your radiation treatment ends.
What Kind of Skin Problems Can Radiation Therapy Cause?
The effect external radiation therapy has on your skin is similar to the effect that exposure to the sun can have. You can expect to see some changes in coloration. The skin may look red, sunburned, or tanned. It may also appear swollen or blistered. Your skin may also become dry, flaky, or itchy. Or it may start to peel.
The key to dealing with skin irritations is to be gentle with your skin:
- Don't wear tight clothing over the area that's being treated.
- Don't scrub or rub your skin. To clean it, use a mild soap and let lukewarm water run over it.
- Avoid putting anything hot or cold on the treated area unless the doctor tells you to do so.
- Ask your doctor before using any type of ointment, oil, lotion, or powder on the skin.
- Check with your doctor about using corn starch to help relieve itching.
- Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Protect the treated area by wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt. Ask the doctor about using sunscreen if you must be out in the sun.
- If radiation therapy is being used to treat breast cancer, try not to wear a bra. If that isn't possible, wear a soft, cotton bra without underwire.
- Don't use any tape, gauze, or bandages on your skin unless the doctor tells you to.
Your skin irritation should improve starting a few weeks after therapy ends. But when it heals, your skin in the treated area may be a darker color. And you will still need to protect your skin from exposure to the sun for up to a year after radiation therapy.