What are the most common side effects that ovarian patients experience when receiving radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy is a kind of cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells. This treatment has its side effects which are short and long-term as well, and they are listed below.
Short term side effects
Short term side effects are those side effects that last only for a short period and slowly wear off once treatment is over.
Weakness and fatigue
The most common side effect of radiation is the patient feeling tired and weak. Weakness and tiredness are due to the lack of energy and release of inflammatory particles from dead cells. It is thereby of utmost importance that the patient takes good rest. Tiredness can continue for weeks even after the treatment is over, but these side effects will wear off gradually.
When radiation therapy to the stomach area like the abdomen or pelvic area, it causes the side effect of diarrhea in the patient (radiation enteritis). Medication can be prescribed to help with this condition. Also, the patient should drink plenty of water and remain hydrated all the time, and if diarrhea persists, the doctor should be informed.
Long-term side effects
Long-term side effects are those that last or show up months or even years after treatment. Healthy tissues grow slowly, so the side effects of radiation sometimes take a while to show up. It is essential to inform your healthcare team if you have bowel disease or if you have had surgery in the abdomen before. The doctor will take precautions to reduce the risk of side effects.
Some patients may have frequent loose stools. This is a long-term side effect. It is best to avoid high fiber foods and inform the doctor if passing stool becomes too routine or if there is bleeding. The doctor may also prescribe medicines to control diarrhea and slower bowel movements.
Urgency and frequency in urination
After radiation therapy, the bladder becomes less stretchy, so it won’t be able to hold as much urine as before, and this will lead to frequently using the toilet.