Brain changes: Radiation therapy to the brain may cause problems months or years after treatment ends. Side effects may include memory loss, unsteadiness, or personality changes. Patients may seek help from a physical, occupational, or speech therapist.
Depression: Clinical depression occurs in approximately 25% of cancer patients since coping is difficult for patients and families. Medication and counseling may help with symptoms and increase the patient's quality of life.
Infertility: Women receiving radiation therapy to the abdomen, pelvis, vagina, or uterus may destroy eggs in the ovaries leading to premature menopause. Additionally, men receiving radiation therapy to the testicles may develop fertility problems. Different options include the following: adoption, donor sperm, donor embryos, donor eggs, or surrogacy (another woman carries and gives birth to the child).
Joint problems: Radiation therapy may cause scar tissue and weakness in areas treated for joint or bone cancer. This can lead to loss of motion in the joints. A physical therapist can provide exercises to decrease pain, increase strength, and improve movement.
Lymphedema: Radiation therapy may damage the lymph nodes (located in clusters in the neck, armpits, and groin) causing swelling of an arm or leg. Ways to manage symptoms include taking care of the arm or leg by using skin lotion, keeping the feet clean, and wearing loose fitting clothes.
Malnutrition: Mouth sores may become so severe that patients develop significant discomfort when eating and swallowing. This may cause malnutrition and dehydration, which could lead to hospitalization. Regular appointments with a dentist and taking care of the mouth may prevent malnutrition that occurs as a result of painful eating and swallowing.
Secondary cancer: Radiation therapy may cause a new cancer many years after treatment. Patients should have check-ups with a radiation oncologist for the rest of their lives.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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