Chemotherapy and Radiation

To treat cancer, doctors often prescribe strong treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. While these treatments are effective against the cancer, they also have an adverse effect on the patient's body and result in many unpleasant side effects.

Some of the side effects can be handled, while others just have to be tolerated. However, it's always best to be informed about the possibilities so you can be emotionally and physically prepared to deal with them. Let's discuss the side effects of each treatment in detail:

Side Effects of Chemotherapy:
Cancer cells grow and multiply quickly and anti drugs basically aim to destroy such cells. But there are certain normal cells that also grow and multiply rapidly, and chemotherapy can sometimes affect these cells as well, this is what causes side effects some patients experience.

Side effects vary from person to person, and it is possible that you may have only some or none or all of these side effects. The severity and type of side effects depend on the length of and type of chemotherapy you receive.

Usually side effects go away when the chemotherapy has ended because normal cells have the chance to grow and multiply normally. Most people do not face any long-term problem from chemotherapy, but in some cases chemotherapy can cause permanent changes or damage certain organs.

Some common side effects of chemotherapy are discussed below:

One of the most common side effects related to chemotherapy is fatigue. Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. Fatigue faced by cancer patients differs greatly from fatigue faced by normal people. Rest does not always relive this kind of fatigue and it can last for days, weeks or months.

Chemotherapy can sometimes damage nerves that can produce a burning sensation or a tingling or shooting pain. Most often this pain occurs in the toes and fingers of the patient. Pain is not faced by everyone who undergoes chemotherapy, but is fairly common. If you feel pain, you do not have top panic because this pain can be relieved. You should inform your doctor about the pain and describe it as accurately as you can, and the doctor can give you appropriate pain medicine.

Hair Loss:
Another very common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss, which is also known as alopecia. Not all drugs cause hair loss and you can ask your doctor whether the drug you are going to be taking ill cause hair loss or not. Hair loss usually begins several weeks into the treatment and can occur in all parts of the body ? underarms, head, face, and legs. In some cases, it so happens that the hair grows back in a different color or texture so you must not be alarmed by such an occurrence.

Nausea and Vomiting:
Often, patients who undergo chemotherapy face feelings of nausea and vomiting, but new drugs considerably reduce such feelings. Different drugs work for different people ad your doctor may be able to advice you on which drug is best suited for you. Make sure you inform your doctor is the feeling of nausea is extreme or vomiting occurs fairly frequently.

Radiation Recall:
Some people who have previously undergone radiation develop a side effect known as radiation recall during their chemotherapy treatment. What actually happens in radiation recall is that the area of skin that had previously been exposed to radiation turns red ? the red can be of any shade ranging from bright to dark red. You should inform your doctor about such an occurrence. Radiation recall may last from a few hours to several days.

Some other side effects caused by chemotherapy are: Infection Anemia Kidney and bladder effects Blood clotting Fluid retention Diarrhea Flu-like symptoms Constipation Low platelet count Mouth, gum and throat problems Central nervous system problems Skin and nail effects.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is very hard on the body and produces heat not only on the radiation site but also all through out the body. It causes burns and also destroys healthy tissue. This must be treated both topically and orally. Topical treatment is placed on the radiation site to decrease the burn on the healthy tissue and preserve it, but also increase the effect of the radiation. 


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The information and procedures contained herein is not presented as medical advice nor should it be used as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner. The information contained herein has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products and the information set forth herein are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease nor should any information contained herein be read as prescribing any specific remedy or guaranteeing any specific result. We are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the suggestions preparations, or procedures discussed herein. All matters pertaining to your physical health should be supervised by a health care professional.