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Information for Patients Receiving Radiation

Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy?

Some side effects depend on the location of the tumour where radiation therapy is directed

Head and neck.

Approximately two weeks after the first treatment you may begin to experience side effects, or symptoms caused by radiation therapy. These symptoms may continue throughout the treatment period. And gradually disappear during or after the treatment is completed. Before treatment, you need to see your dentist for apre radiation evaluation. This includes inspection, polishing, scaling (if indicated), flossing and repair or restoration of existing teeth.

  • Your dentist will provide you with a fluoride treatment regimen to include a fluoride tray and fluoride gel.
  • Darkening of the local skin
  • Painful ulcerations in Mouth and gum
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Change their taste resulting in a bitter, metallic or chalk-type taste
  • Hoarseness
  • Thick saliva
  • Hair loss over the face and neck
  • Jaw stiffness


  • Rinse your mouth with a salt and soda solution every 1-2 hours. (In a quart of water, put a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda). This is the most important thing you can do to reduce mouth problems during radiation.
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol.
  • If you wear false teeth, ask your doctor if you can still wear them during treatment.
  • Eat soft, moist foods. Put gravy and sauces on foods to make them easier to swallow.
  • Avoid foods with sharp edges such as crackers or chips.
  • Eat when you feel hungry, even if it is not meal time.
  • Do not use alcohol-based after-shave. Use an electric razor for shaving.
  • Use liquid dietary supplements.
  • Carry a container of water with you so you can take frequent sips.
  • Sugar free gum or candy may help relieve dry mouth.

Chest & Breast

  • Darkening of the local skin of chest and breast
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breast or nipple soreness
  • Shoulder stiffness


  • Drinking lots of liquids during meals .
  • Eating soft, moist non-spicy foods can help also.
  • Chewing food very well and swallowing only small amounts.
  • Keep a humidifier or vaporizer close to you at all times to keep phlegm thinner so it can be coughed up easier.
  • Do not wear a bra, if at all possible. Or wear a sports bra.

Stomach and abdomen

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bowel cramping
  • Loose stool or diarrhea


These symptoms will likely go away after treatment. During treatment, your doctor can prescribe medicine to manage these side effects. Making changes to your diet may also reduce symptoms. It may be helpful to talk with an oncology dietitian.

  • Try not eating for a few hours before treatment and a few hours after.
  • Eat six small meals a day, rather than three larger meals.
  • Avoid greasy, fried, fatty or spicy foods.


  • Loose stool or diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Incontinence —inablity to control his or her bladder
  • Bladder irritation
  • Sexual problems for men, such as erectile dysfunction
  • Changes in menstruation, such as having menstruation stop
  • Symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal itching, burning, dryness, and other changes to sexual health for women

Management of Side Effects during Pelvic Radiation Therapy

  • Do not eat raw fruits, vegetables or whole grains
  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Drink cranberry juice as part of fluid intake
  • Meet your doctor if you have painful urination or to lessen frequent loose stools
  • Use birth control to prevent pregnancy
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines that decrease the number of bowel movements.

Management of the skin reactions-

Radiation can cause the skin to become red, itchy or both.

  • Wear loose, soft, cotton clothing over the area being treated.
  • Avoid stiff or starched clothing near the area being treated.
  • Do not put anything but mild soap (such as Dove) and lukewarm water on the skin in the treated area
  • Wash the area gently with your hand.
  • Do not scratch, rub or scrub the area.
  • Do not put a heating pad or an ice pack on the area.
  • Avoid any tight clothing in the treatment area.
  • Do not use moisturizers/lotion 2 hours before your radiation treatment.
  • Do not allow the treatment area to be in direct sunlight for at least one year past the last treatment.


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    +91-11-47022222 | Fax +91 11 27051037

  • Squadron Leader Mahender Kumar Jain Marg, Block K, Niti Bagh, New Delhi, Delhi 110049

    +91-11-45822222 / +91-11-45822200

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