Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What are the side effects of radiotherapy?"
Is it like chemotherapy where I'll feel nauseus? Will I feel anything? I am 51
Radiation therapy is used to treat some types of cancer. The specialist that performs radiation therapy is called a Radiation Oncologist, and he or she can tell you more about the side effects specific to the location and type of radiation that you are receiving. In general, radiation therapy causes changes where the beam of radiation penetrates your skin and internal organs. The radiation beam can cause color change and pain on the skin; this effect may happen either early on in treatment, or may be a delayed effect, occurring months later. The internal organs that the beam penetrates can also be affected; this is the idea behind using it to treat localized cancers. If the beam goes through the esophagus (swallowing tube), you could develop esophageal scarring that could cause trouble swallowing. If it goes near your intestines (colon and small intestines), you could develop diarrhea, pain with bowel movements, nausea and vomiting, or blood in your bowel movements. If it goes near your ureters (the tubes that lead from the kidneys to the bladder), you could have difficulty with urination and possibly develop kidney swelling. However, the risk of each of these will need to be determined by your Radiation Oncologist, who you should talk to in detail.
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