We have a variety of patients who will need radiation therapy once they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, we are going to discuss what are some of the short term side effects of radiation therapy.
The most common side effect is the area that receives the radiation therapy will become irritated. The area that will receive the treatment will feel more sensitive and even turn pink/red. The area will feel like a sunburn because it will potentially start to peel, blister, and even itch. Don’t forget the area can become more tender and sore. The irritation can get worse throughout your sessions, but it will get better once all treatments are completed. Another temporary side effect is if you are going to be treated near your underarms then you may loose underarm hair and you might perspire less. Woman tend to feel more fatigued as the weeks go by. However, this will elevate within a few weeks of the last treatment.
Remember, radiation therapy is given daily over weeks so it can be a bit of a time commitment. Therefore, work with your family to get a schedule in place so it doesn’t become stressful.
Here are a few things you can do to make the skin less sensitive during radiation treatment:
- Don’t shower with hot water
- Avoid the shower water to hit the treated area directly
- Use fragrance-free soaps with moisturizers
- Wear loose-fitting shirts, preferably cotton.
- Avoid having skin-on-skin contact
- Wear bras without an underwire
- Try to keep your arm away from your body
- Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream thinly over the affected area 3 times a day
- Use a sunblock with SPF 30 or higher on the treated area
- Apply sunblock 30 minutes before you leave your home