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
Mitochondria Bioenergetics And Radiation
In addition to the evidence that inflammation, immune, and anemia-modulated processes contribute to RIF, it is likely that mitochondrial energetics also play a role in the pathobiology of RIF. There is evidence that an increase in ROS formation from RT will cause cellular damage resulting in dysfunction to the mitochondria . ROS are considered one of the major direct causes of ionizing radiation-induced damage , resulting in a number of adverse effects that reduce the efficacy of treatment . It is known that radiation-induced damage alters mitochondrial metabolism, inhibits the mitochondrial respiratory chain, and forms highly reactive peroxynitrite . Once mitochondrial proteins are damaged, the affinity of substrates or enzymes is decreased resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction .
Tips For Boosting Or Saving Energy
Taking shortcuts on some things or getting help from other people can help you to feel less tired.
Some research into treating tiredness shows that it is important to balance exercise with resting. The amount you do depends on how much you’re used to exercising. Pick the time of day when you are feeling least tired.
If you’re feeling very tired there are some things you can do to help depending on your circumstances:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Have short naps if you need to.
- If you’re working, see if you can reduce your hours or work from home if possible.
- Ask family and friends for help with things like shopping, housework, gardening, and collecting the children from school.
- Don’t forget to do things that you enjoy this may take your mind off things a bit and make you feel more relaxed.
- Speak to an occupational therapist or social worker if you have problems with your mobility.
- Write a list of shopping and go when the supermarket is not busy or have food delivered.
- Do household tasks sitting down, where possible.
- Play games that you can do sitting or lying down, if you have children. For example, board games, reading books and drawing pictures.
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Fatigue Is The Most Common Side Effect Of Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and immunotherapy can cause fatigue. Fatigue is also a common symptom of some types of cancer. People with cancer describe fatigue as feeling tired, weak,worn-out, heavy, slow, or that they have no energy or get-up-and-go. Fatigue in people with cancer may be called cancer fatigue, cancer-related fatigue, and cancer treatment-related fatigue.
Can You Survive Radiation Poisoning
Depending on how much radiation is absorbed, the answer to the question Can you survive radiation poisoning is a resounding no. While a single exposure of 400 rads can kill 50% of humans, repeated exposures of three to ten times this amount can cause more serious side effects. While a single high dose of radiation causes immediate damage to cells and tissues, it is also used in cancer treatments to eliminate tumour cells. Regardless of the type of ionizing radiation exposure, people who have suffered a lethal dose have few chances of survival. They are treated with medications that control the symptoms and keep them under observation, so they can be kept under close surveillance.
Acute radiation syndrome occurs in a few hours after exposure, and symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and anemia. Acute radiation syndrome is a potentially fatal condition. It is not uncommon to have a weakened immune system. Symptoms of acute radiodermatitis can appear 24 hours after exposure and may not appear until several days later, depending on the dose. If not treated, the symptoms can cause death.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
Remember that the type of radiation side effects you might have depends on the prescribed dose and schedule. Most side effects go away within a few months of ending treatment. Some side effects may continue after treatment ends because it takes time for the healthy cells to recover from radiation.
Side effects might limit your ability to do some things. What you can do will depend on how you feel. Some patients are able to go to work or enjoy leisure activities while they get radiation therapy. Others find they need more rest than usual and cant do as much. If you have side effects that are bothersome and affecting your daily activities or health, the doctor may stop your treatments for a while, change the schedule, or change the type of treatment youre getting. Tell your cancer care team about any side affects you notice so they can help you with them.
Can You Take A Break From Radiation
When undergoing radiation therapy, you may experience side effects like nausea or vomiting. Your doctor may suggest that you limit certain activities, such as exercise, to minimize the chance of triggering a reaction. But youre not required to stop all treatment your cancer symptoms and pain management can continue even when youre not receiving radiation treatments. You can take a break from radiation for a day or two if you feel the need.
A short break from radiation treatment is an important way to rest your body. Although youll be treated for a specific length of time, a break from the treatments can help your body recover. Your body needs to rest and recover, so its important to keep busy and avoid scheduling conflicts. In addition, you should wear loose-fitting clothing to minimize the risk of developing skin rashes. The longer you stay in the hospital, the greater the chances of developing complications.
If you cant go without treatments, you can always take a break from your treatment schedule. Your staff members will make every effort to work out a schedule that fits your schedule. However, short-term interruptions are unlikely to reduce the effectiveness of treatment. If you miss a session, you can always make it up by adding another. If youre feeling uncomfortable, wear loose-fitting clothes that wont irritate your skin.
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If Youre Having Radiation Therapy To The Pelvis
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause side effects such as:
- Bladder problems
- Fertility problems
- Changes in your sex life
You might also have some of the same problems people get from radiation to the abdomen, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Radiation to the pelvis can cause problems with urination, including:
- Pain or burning sensations
- Blood in the urine
- An urge to urinate often
Most of these problems get better over time, but radiation therapy can cause longer-term side effects as well:
Risk Factors And Prevention
Pretreatment fatigue levels have been proposed as an essential risk factor for fatigue development during RT . Diagnosing fatigue and recognizing it as a predictor for this condition during treatment within the first appointments seems to be of uttermost importance. Other factors influencing the grade of severity of RIF that have been described in the literature include the diurnal rhythm, where morning fatigue appears to be more affected by biologic factors and evening fatigue by behavioral factors. Another factor is smoking, with smokers experiencing considerably more fatigue than non-smokers. Time-to-hospitalization appears to influence the grade of severity of RIF, with significantly worse symptoms of fatigue in patients who had to travel 2 or more hours compared to patients who had to travel < 2 h . Factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, a weakened physical condition, diarrhea, malnourishment, and anemia possibly further deteriorate fatigue . Geinitz et al. observed a significant increase in pretreatment fatigue levels compared to posttreatment values. In women with depression and anxiety, fatigue levels were reported to persist for more than 2 years after the termination of RT. Contrary to that, disease staging and neoadjuvant chemotherapy did not impact the severity of fatigue in a study performed by Lavdaniti et al. .
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How Can I Combat Cancer Fatigue
The best way to combat fatigue is to treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause may be unknown, or there may be multiple causes. There are treatments to reduce certain causes of cancer fatigue, such as anemia or hypothyroidism. Other causes must be managed on an individual basis.
The following are tips you can use to combat cancer fatigue:
- Conserve energy.
- Manage your stress.
Urinary And Bladder Changes
Radiation therapy to the pelvis can cause urinary and bladder problems by irritating the healthy cells of the bladder wall and urinary tract. These changes may start 35 weeks after radiation therapy begins. Most problems go away 28 weeks after treatment is over. You may experience:
- Burning or pain when you begin to urinate or after you urinate
- Trouble starting to urinate
- Bladder spasms, which are like painful muscle cramps
Ways to manage include:
- Drink lots of fluids. Aim for 68 cups of fluids each day, or enough that your urine is clear to light yellow in color.
- Avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, spices and all tobacco products.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you think you have urinary or bladder problems. You may need to provide a urine sample to check for infection.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have incontinence. He/she may refer you to a physical therapist to assess your problem. The therapist may recommend exercises to help you improve your bladder control.
- Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you urinate, reduce burning or pain, and ease bladder spasms.
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Faq: Radiation Therapy For Prostate Cancer
Why would I choose radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy, including external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy, is an alternative form of treatment for prostate cancer. EBRT may be used after other treatments, such as surgery, to manage cancer that has recurred or is at high risk of recurrence. Radiation therapy has an excellent record of success, providing long-term disease control and survival rates equivalent to other treatments, including surgery.
How should I expect to feel during radiation therapy?
Undergoing external beam radiation therapy is similar to having a routine X-ray. Radiation cannot be seen, smelled or felt. Generally, side effects don’t appear until the second or third week of treatment. Because radiation therapy is a local treatment, only the areas of the body where it is directed will experience side effects. Most patients will experience some or all of the following:
- Increase in the frequency of urination
- Urinary urgency
- Softer and smaller volume bowel movements
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
- Worsening of hemorrhoids or rectal irritation with occasional scant blood and fatigue
Many questions may arise during radiation therapy treatment. Your doctors will be available to answer questions throughout your treatment.
How should I expect to feel after radiation therapy?
How Long Does It Take For Radiation Side Effects To Go Away
The general effects of radiation therapy like fatigue, nausea, and headaches resolve fairly quickly after treatment. Your body just needs time to process the radiation but can recover within a few weeks.
Delayed side effects of radiation therapy, on the other hand, may require further treatment to alleviate. Its important to use an ongoing therapy like hyperbaric oxygen therapy to enhance the bodys healing response and optimize the bodys response to radiation damage. Without additional care, some radiation side effects like burns and inflammation can morph into chronic, non-healing wounds that trigger additional health complications.
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Ways To Save Up Your Energy
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen
If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:
Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.
These problems should get better when treatment is over.
Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.
If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.
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Stiff Joints And Muscles
Radiotherapy can sometimes make your joints and muscles in the area being treated feel stiff, swollen and uncomfortable.
Exercising and stretching regularly can help to prevent stiffness.
Tell your care team if joint or muscle stiffness a problem. They may refer you to a physiotherapist, who can recommend exercises for you to try.
How Long Is Your Immune System Compromised After Chemo And Radiation
Now, new research suggests that the effects of chemotherapy can compromise part of the immune system for up to nine months after treatment, leaving patients vulnerable to infections at least when it comes to early-stage breast cancer patients whove been treated with a certain type of chemotherapy.
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Supporting Someone With Fatigue
Supporting a partner, friend or family member with fatigue can be very difficult. There are things that might help.
- Ask your loved one what he feels able to do and support him to do those things.
- Ask what he doesnt feel able to do and look into ways you or other people could help with those things.
- Ask if your loved one would like you to go to hospital appointments with him.
- Learn more about fatigue so you understand what your loved one is going through.
- Look into ways to deal with any feelings you might have about your loved ones fatigue, like feeling frustrated or upset.
- Make sure you get enough rest so that you have enough energy to support him.
- Ask friends and family for help.
- Talk to your doctor for support.
Read more about supporting someone with prostate cancer.
When Should I Call My Doctor
Although cancer-related fatigue is a common, and often an expected side effect of cancer and its treatments, you should feel free to mention your concerns to your health care providers. Fatigue may be a clue to an underlying medical problem. Other times, there may be treatments to help control some of the causes of fatigue.
Finally, there may be suggestions that are more specific to your situation that would help in combating your fatigue. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know if you have:
- Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion
- Uncontrolled pain
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A Physical Exam And Health History Will Be Taken To Look For Causes Of Fatigue That Can Be Treated
A physical exam will be done. This is an exam of the body to check general signs of health or anything that seems unusual. The doctor will check for problems such as trouble breathing or loss of muscle strength. Your walking, posture, and joint movements will be checked.
Blood tests to check for anemia will be done. The most common blood tests to check if the number of red blood cells is normal are:
- Complete blood count with differential: A procedure in which a sample of blood is taken and checked for the following:
- The number of red blood cells and platelets.
- The number and type of white blood cells.
- The amount of hemoglobin in the red blood cells.
- The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.
The healthcare team will take a health history by asking about the status of your cancer and cancer treatments. It is important that you and your family tell the healthcare team if fatigue is a problem. You will be asked to describe the fatigue.
Other questions that you will be asked about include: