Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Cancers of the Female Reproductive System
Side effects of radiation therapy for
cervical cancer or
endometrial cancer are common. Your
radiation oncologist will explain the possible side
effects, including uncommon side effects that may involve the abdomen, the
pelvis, and the genital area. Home treatment measures may help you manage the
side effects. For more information, see the Home Treatment section of this
Fatigue is a common side effect, especially in the later weeks of
treatment and for several weeks afterward. Rest is important, but health
professionals usually advise you to try to stay reasonably active, matching
your activities to your energy level.
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Radiation therapy to the lower abdomen may cause difficulty with
urination or problems with bowel habits, such as constipation or severe
diarrhea. Inflammation of the bladder (radiation cystitis) is a common side
effect, especially if internal radiation treatment is used in the
Your ability to have or enjoy sexual intercourse may also be
affected, because radiation may cause changes to the cells lining the vagina
(mucosa), making intercourse difficult or painful.
The skin in the treated area may become red, dry, tender, and itchy.
Toward the end of treatment, the skin may become moist and "weepy." These
effects are temporary, and the area will gradually heal when treatment is
completed. Expose the area to air as much as possible to help the skin heal.
Some types of clothing may rub the skin and cause irritation, so you may want
to wear loose-fitting cotton clothes.
Good skin care is important during radiation therapy, and you should
check with your health professional before using any deodorants, lotions, or
creams on the treated area. The effects of radiation therapy on the skin are
temporary, and the area gradually heals once treatment is over. You may notice
a slight change in the color of the skin.
Most of these side effects go away when treatment is over, but some
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
October 31, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
October 31, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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