Short-term side effects from radiation therapy include nausea, fatigue, mild skin reactions, hair loss, upset stomach, and neurologic symptoms. However, these side effects disappear soon after treatment ends. Generally, radiation therapy is not advisable for children younger than 5 because of the high risk of damage to their developing brains.
Antiemetic drugs help against symptoms of vomiting. Ginger or ginger supplements catalyst the effectiveness of antiemetics.
Fatigue as a common side-effect may be present while performing certain activities or most of the time. One must talk to their therapist to help manage cancer-related fatigue.
3. Loss of appetite
Radiotherapy may affect one’s appetite, metabolism and eating habits. Regular intake of nourishment is important.
4. Low white blood cell count and decreased immunity
Neutropenia is the drop in white blood cell count leading to dysfunction in the immune system. Moreover, this makes the patient susceptible to infections and other ailments. Antibiotics help reduce susceptibility to infections.
5. Low platelet count and bleeding issues
Thrombocytopenia or a decrease in blood platelet count leads to blood-clotting problems. This can further lead to nosebleeds, bleeding of gums, and profuse bleeding from skin wounds or call for urgent blood transfusions.
6. Low red blood cell count and anemia
A drop in red blood cell count may lead to anemia. Symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. In which case, an erythropoietin (EPO) helps increase the rate of red blood cell production.
7. Hair loss, skin-related issues
There might be skin-changes in the areas treated like redness, swelling, peeling and hair loss. In this case, a dermatologist may be consulted.
Furthermore, long-term side effects of radiation therapy depend on how much healthy tissue received radiation. They include memory and hormonal problems and cognitive (thought process) changes, such as difficulty understanding and performing complex tasks.