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What to Expect From Radiation Therapy

How Can I Handle Fatigue? continued...

Let your doctor know if you’re struggling with fatigue. She might be able to help. There are also things you can do to feel better:

  • Take care of your health. Be sure you're taking your medications the way you're supposed to. Get plenty of rest, be as active as you can, and eat the right foods.
  • Work with a counselor or take a class at your cancer treatment center to learn ways to conserve energy, reduce stress, and keep yourself from focusing on the fatigue.
  • Save your energy for the activities that are most important to you. Tackle them first when you’re feeling up to it.
  • Keep a balance between rest and activities. Too much bed rest can make you more tired. But don't over-schedule your days without giving yourself breaks.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. If fatigue is interfering with your job, talk with your boss or HR department and ask about taking some time off from work or making adjustments in your schedule.

Keep in mind that the fatigue from radiation therapy will probably go away within a few weeks after your treatment ends.

What Kind of Skin Problems Can Radiation Therapy Cause?

The way external radiation therapy affects your skin is similar to what happens when you spend time in the sun. It may look red, sunburned, or tanned. It may also get swollen or blistered. Your skin may also become dry, flaky, or itchy. Or it may start to peel.

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 area unless the doctor tells you to.
  • Ask your doctor before you use any type of ointment, oil, lotion, or powder on your skin.
  • Ask about using corn starch to help relieve itching.
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Cover the area getting radiation with clothing or hats to protect it. Ask the doctor about using sunscreen if you must be outdoors.
  • If you’re having radiation therapy for breast cancer, try not to wear a bra. If that isn't possible, wear a soft, cotton one without underwire.
  • Don't use any tape, gauze, or bandages on your skin unless the doctor tells you to.

Your skin should start to feel better a few weeks after therapy ends. But when it heals, it may be a darker color. And you’ll still need to protect yourself from the sun even after radiation therapy has ended.

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