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Does Radiation Treatment Cause Fatigue

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What Are The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Why Do I Feel So Tired After Radiation

The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. Late side effects can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. Early and late side effects may include any of the following:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Pain in the area of the body that is being treated
  • Skin changes such as a sunburn or red skin
  • Hair loss in the area receiving radiation
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or indigestion
  • Sores, pain, or dryness in your mouth
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Sexual dysfunction

Why Does Radiation Therapy Cause Fatigue

Fatigue occurs during radiation therapy because the body is working hard to repair damage to healthy cells incurred during treatment. The degree of fatigue generally varies depending on the amount of tissue irradiated, as well as the location.

But radiation therapy may not be the sole culprit of fatigue: it can be a result of cancer itself or the mental stress associated with being a cancer patient. Certain medications, such as those to prevent and treat nausea, can also be responsible for fatigue. It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact cause because there are many factors in cancer treatment that can all be responsible.

Coping With Common Side Effects Of Radiation

There are ways to help you ease your discomfort.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat healthily. Depending on the part of your body getting radiation, your care team may suggest changes in your diet.
  • Tell your care team about all the medicines youre taking. Be sure to include aspirin, vitamins, or herbs and things you take only as needed, such as sleep aids, antacids, headache remedies, and antihistamines.

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Hormonal Changes During Breast Cancer Treatment

Doctors may prescribe hormone therapy to treat breast cancer or to decrease the risk of its recurrence.

The hormone estrogen feeds some types of breast cancer. Suppressing estrogen may reduce the risk of such breast cancers recurring. Treatment may include hormonal therapies, such as:

Fatigue is among the most common side effects of chemotherapy.

According to The National Cancer Institute , the cause of fatigue during cancer treatment is not always clear and may involve more than one factor.

For example, chemotherapy may decrease red blood cell and then white blood cell levels, which may cause fatigue. Chemotherapy can also trigger nausea and vomiting, which may cause dehydration and associated fatigue.

According to the chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also cause fatigue in the following ways:

  • by altering levels of hormones and proteins that contribute to inflammation

Pain And Skin Changes

Lung Cancer Trial Overturns Assumption of Brain Radiation Benefits

During and just after treatment, your treated breast may be sore. Talk with your health care provider about using mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to ease breast tenderness.

The treated breast may also be rough to the touch, red , swollen and itchy. Sometimes the skin may peel, as if sunburned. Your provider may suggest special creams to ease this discomfort.

Sometimes the skin peels further and the area becomes tender and sensitive. This is called a moist reaction. Its most common in the skin folds and the underside of the breast.

If a moist reaction occurs, let your radiation team know. They can give you creams and pads to make the area more comfortable until it heals.

Fatigue is common during radiation therapy and may last for several weeks after treatment ends.

Fatigue is mainly a short-term problem, but for some, it can persist .

You may feel like you dont have any energy and may feel tired all of the time. Resting may not help.

Regular exercise, even just walking for 20 minutes every day, may help reduce fatigue . Getting a good nights sleep is also important.

Talk with your health care provider if you are fatigued or have problems sleeping .

Learn more about fatigue and insomnia.

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Can I Take A Bath After Radiation Therapy

Bathe or shower daily using warm water and a mild unscented soap, such as Neutrogena®, Dove®, baby soap, Basis®, or Cetaphil®. Rinse your skin well and pat it dry with a soft towel. When washing, be gentle with your skin in the area being treated. Don’t use a washcloth, scrubbing cloth, loofah or brush.

Aim And Method Of Review

This review aimed to provide an overview of the etiology and management of radiotherapy-induced fatigue . Specifically, this paper reviews the definition, proposed pathobiology and management of RIF. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has categorized RIF as a clinical subtype of cancer-related fatigue . A search through PubMed, MEDLINE, and CINAHL using key phrases/words: radiation-induced fatigue, radiation-associated fatigue, cancer treatment-related fatigue, CRF as well as radiation therapy and fatigue yield 72 articles that were included in this narrative review. More, exhaustive systematic reviews on CRF were previously conducted however, this review focused on articles published within at least 10 years that defined, proposed mechanisms and interventions for RIF.

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What Kind Of Skin Problems Can Radiation Therapy Cause

The way external radiation therapy affects your skin is similar to what happens when you spend time in the sun. It may look red, sunburned, or tanned. It may also get swollen or blistered. Your skin may also become dry, flaky, or itchy. Or it may start to peel.

Be gentle with your skin:

  • Don’t wear tight clothing over the area that’s being treated.
  • Don’t scrub or rub your skin. To clean it, use a mild soap and let lukewarm water run over it.
  • Avoid putting anything hot or cold on the area unless the doctor tells you to.
  • Ask your doctor before you use any type of ointment, oil, lotion, or powder on your skin.
  • Ask about using corn starch to help relieve itching.
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Cover the area getting radiation with clothing or hats to protect it. Ask the doctor about using sunscreen if you must be outdoors.
  • If youâre having radiation therapy for breast cancer, try not to wear a bra. If that isn’t possible, wear a soft, cotton one without underwire.
  • Don’t use any tape, gauze, or bandages on your skin unless the doctor tells you to.

Your skin should start to feel better a few weeks after therapy ends. But when it heals, it may be a darker color. And youâll still need to protect yourself from the sun even after radiation therapy has ended.

What Are The Dangers Of Radiotherapy Prostate Cancer Treatment

What Are the Side Effects of Radiation Treatment?

Radiotherapy is considered effective for treatment of cancer with a success rate of above 90%. But is it safe for prostate cancer treatment? Does it cause any side effects? And if yes, are radiation therapy side effects reversible?

Well, radio frequency is pain-free and considered safe for prostate cancer treatment. To help you understand the safety of this procedure we shall look at both the short and long-term side effects resulting from this treatment.

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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain

People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.

If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.

Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble with memory and speech
  • Seizures

Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.

Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.

Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.

How Can I Tell If I Have Cancer Fatigue

  • Think of your personal energy stores as a “bank.” Deposits and withdrawals have to be made over the course of the day or the week to ensure a balance between energy conservation, restoration and expenditure.
  • Keep a diary for one week to identify the time of day when you are either most fatigued or have the most energy. Note what you think may be contributing factors.
  • Be alert to the warning signs of impending cancer fatigue tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, decreased energy or a lack of energy, inability to concentrate, weakness or malaise, boredom or lack of motivation, sleepiness, increased irritability, nervousness, anxiety or impatience.

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Tiredness After Brain Radiotherapy

People having radiotherapy for brain tumours often feel tired. This can be worse if you’re also taking steroids. The tiredness often reaches its maximum 1 to 2 weeks after the end of treatment.

A small number of people are asleep for a lot of the day after a long course of radiotherapy to the brain. This called somnolence syndrome.

  • External Beam Therapy Peter Hoskin

  • Efficacy of exercise interventions in modulating cancer-related fatigue among adult cancer survivors: a meta-analysisJ C Brown and othersCancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2011

  • Devita, Hellman and Rosenberg’s Cancer Principles and Practice of Oncology VT Devita, TS Lawrence and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer Health, 2019

What Causes Excessive Tiredness

A Guide to Radiotherapy

Itâs tricky because a number of things can bring on fatigue when you’re going through prostate cancer treatment.

For example, itâs common to feel quite worn down due to:

  • not having enough sleep or rest

  • eating poorly and not getting the right amount of exercise

  • stress, anxiety or depression

  • more than one treatment at the same time

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How Can Exercise Help Reduce Cancer Fatigue

You may feel ill from your cancer or treatment, which may lead to less physical activity. Decreased levels of physical activity can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, fatigue and nausea. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease the feeling of fatigue and help you feel energetic. Even during cancer therapy, it’s often possible to continue to exercise. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Exercise has many health benefits. Regular exercise can:

  • Increase your appetite.

How Long Does Your Physical Energy Last

One of the things that I noticed during radiation treatment was that my physical energy didnt last very long. I couldnt do anything physical for much longer than 15 minutes. That meant that I needed to be aware of how long things took to plan effectively.

Make a Cup of Tea

I am not a huge tea drinker. But, I found that drinking a cup of tea in the morning was therapeutic and comforting. Plus, I used the time it took to make a cup of tea to do the morning kitchen jobs.

I would set the teapot to boil, then start to empty the dishwasher. As I was finishing up, the water would start to boil. So, I would prepare my tea and then complete the morning kitchen tasks while it was steeping. I would use the tea timer to help me complete the job. I knew that I had just enough energy to work until the timer was done.

Then, I would stop. Wherever I was in the job, it was time to take a break. I sat down on the couch and enjoyed my cup of tea. If the boys needed any help, this was a good time for them to come over and ask for it.

I had just enough physical energy to make a cup of tea. Then, I would rest while drinking it.

Use a Timer

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Radioprotective Drugs For Reducing Side Effects

One way to reduce side effects is by using radioprotective drugs, but these are only used for certain types of radiation given to certain parts of the body. These drugs are given before radiation treatment to protect certain normal tissues in the treatment area. The one most commonly used today is amifostine. This drug may be used in people with head and neck cancer to reduce the mouth problems caused by radiation therapy.

Not all doctors agree on how these drugs should be used in radiation therapy. These drugs have their own side effects, too, so be sure you understand what to look for.

How Your Doctor Can Help

Radiation Treatment: Managing Your Side Effects

The first step is to try to figure out the source or sources of your fatigue. There may be more than one reason youâre feeling this way.

Your doctor can do tests to check for anemia or hypothyroidism. If you have one of these conditions, treatments can help.

If you think your cancer treatment is the cause, talk to your doctor about ways to help you manage it, or discuss other options.

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Walking Through Cancer Fatigue During Radiation Treatment

When I was undergoing radiation treatment for my breast cancer, I experienced major fatigue as a side effect. I was informed that I might expect fatigue, but I was surprised by how quickly it hit me. I felt extreme physical fatigue after only a few treatments. I was also still dealing with the emotional and mental fatigue of the cancer diagnosis. To say that I was tired would be an understatement.

I wrote about the three facets of cancer fatigue in another post. Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue are intertwined during the cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery phases. In this post, Ill share seven ways that I walked through the physical aspects of cancer fatigue during my radiation treatment.

Inflammation And Immune Response

The individualâs inflammatory response is a main mechanism that is proposed to contribute to the experience of RIF. An increased serum level of IL-6sR was significantly associated with fatigue symptoms in women with stage 0-IIA breast cancer receiving 40 Gy of RT for 15 sessions . Increased serum concentrations of IL6 were significantly associated with fatigue symptoms in individuals with unresectable non-small-cell lung cancer receiving curative conventional external beam RT with concurrent chemotherapy . RIF was significantly associated with serum sTNF-R1and IL-6 levels after controlling for numerous covariates in locally advanced colorectal and esophageal cancer receiving concurrent chemoradiation therapy . Homozygous alleles of IL-6 were associated with higher levels of evening and morning fatigue symptoms among cancer patients before, during, and those actively receiving RT .

Microglial and glial cells in the central nervous system also produce cytokines especially in response to stressful conditions caused by RT . The inflammatory cytokines from these cells are thought to communicate with CNS structures causing fatigue by altering neurotransmission in the CNS through the afferent vagus nerve root . For example, the neurons of the preoptic nucleus that synthesize IL-1β have processes that have ramifications for other CNS structures, including the limbic system and the brainstem causing modulation of the neural response leading to significant fatigue .

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Causes And Risk Factors

Radiation therapy works by damaging DNA in cells. This damage isn’t isolated to cancer cells, though normal cells can be damaged as well. While radiation therapy has improved significantly such that less damage occurs to healthy cells than in the past, some healthy tissues are inevitably exposed.

Several variables can increase or decrease your risk of developing long-term side effects of radiotherapy. Some of these are:

  • Your age at the time of radiation
  • The dose of radiation you receive
  • The number of treatment sessions
  • The type of cancer treated
  • The area of the body that receives radiation
  • Other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy
  • Other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes

How To Lower Your Risk

Are we overusing chemoradiotherapy in some bowel cancers?

You can do a number of things in addition to the precautions your healthcare provider takes to reduce your risk of long term complications related to radiation therapy.

  • Don’t smoke, as smoking increases the risk of lung cancer after chest radiation.
  • Talk to your practitioner about any new respiratory symptoms that may suggest radiation pneumonitis.
  • Ask about clinical trials designed to reduce the risk of late effects of radiation.
  • If you will be having chest radiation, ask if respiratory gating is available.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about physical therapy if your movements are restricted. Physical therapy can’t rid your body of permanent scarring but can often improve flexibility and mobility.

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How Are Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy Diagnosed And Treated

  • Your healthcare provider will ask you about your symptoms and decide if they are side effects of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may prevent the bone marrow from making red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This may cause low blood counts. Low blood counts are diagnosed with a blood test.
  • Treatment depends on what area of the body is affected. You may be given medicine to treat nausea, vomiting, indigestion, or diarrhea. You may also be given medicine to treat problems in the mouth, or pain in the area that receives radiation. Lotions, ointments, or creams may be given to treat skin problems caused by radiation therapy.

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