Prostate Cancer: Radiation Therapy
Why Are There Marks on My Skin?
Small marks resembling freckles will be made on your skin along the treatment area by the radiation therapist. These marks provide points to aim the treatment machine at and are a semi-permanent outline of your treatment area. Do not try to wash these marks off or retouch them if they fade. The therapist will re-mark the treatment area when necessary.
Will My Diet Affect My Treatment?
Yes. Good nutrition is an important part of recovering from the side effects of radiation therapy. When you are eating well, you have the energy to do the activities you want to do, and your body is able to heal and fight infection. Most important, good nutrition can give you a sense of well-being.
Since eating when you don't feel well can be difficult, consider working with a dietitian. He or she can help make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition during your radiation therapy.
What Side Effects Will I Have?
During your treatment, radiation must pass through your skin. You may notice some skin changes in the area exposed to radiation. Your skin may become red, swollen, warm, and sensitive, as if you have a sunburn. It may peel or become moist and tender. Depending on the dose of radiation you receive, you may notice a loss of hair or decreased perspiration within the treated area.
These skin reactions are common and temporary. They will subside gradually within four to six weeks of completing treatment. If skin changes appear outside the treated area, inform your doctor or primary nurse.
Long-term side effects, which can last up to a year or longer after treatment, may include a slight darkening of the skin, enlarged pores, increased or decreased sensitivity of the skin, and a thickening of tissue or skin.
Another possible side effect is erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms such as frequency, bleeding, or, rarely, incontinence. Keep these side effects in mind when considering your treatment options. If you have any concerns, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about them.