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Radiotherapy is a treatment modality which uses ionizing radiation. The goal of the treatment is to destroy cancer. However, this therapy can also damage the surrounding healthy cells and tissues. Luckily the damage of the healthy tissues is only temporary and they eventually restore their primary structure and function.

Side Effects of Radiotherapy

All the side effects of radiotherapy may be divided into early side effects and later side effects. Side effects usually differ according to the very site that has been irradiated. For example, side effects of head and neck irradiation are rather different from those that occur during and after breast irradiation. Personal tolerance is what defines the intensity of side effects. There are people who do not experience any of the possible side effects. However, some people have difficulties during the whole treatment. Each and every patient is informed about the possible side effects of this treatment modality and during the treatment patients are regularly examined by specialized doctors.


Tiredness is rather common side effect of radiation therapy. Most of the patients may report that they feel exhausted and that they sleep more than usual.


Nausea is not so common side effect of radiation therapy but it can occur if certain body parts are irradiated. Additionally, radiotherapy can be combined with chemotherapy where chemotherapeutics are responsible for nausea.Problems with Eating and DrinkingPeople who are suffering from head and neck carcinomas and undergo radiation therapy may experience difficulties with eating and drinking. Namely, their salivatory glands do not produce sufficient amount of saliva, their mouth are dry and this is why they develop previously mentioned problems. Sometimes mucous membrane of the oral cavity is significantly damaged and this is another reason why these people cannot eat.

Hair Loss

Radiotherapy may cause hear loss only if cranium is irradiated and the loss of hair affects only the part of the skull which is in the field of radiation. This side effect is reversible.

Skin Problems

People with pale skin may suffer from inflammation of the skin. They require pauses in irradiation. The level of redness and soreness determines whether the treatment will be ceased until the skin heals or the treatment will continue and patient will be additionally given certain ointments and medicines that will accelerate the healing of the affected skin. All the patients must know that prior the very treatment skin has to be clean with no creams or any ointment present as these substances may lead to even more damage of the skin.

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