Radiation therapy is useful for breast cancer patients as it helps to clear off the cancer cells, left in the breast post other treatment approaches like surgery or chemotherapy. The treatment itself is painless and quite effective in removing cancer cells and preventing its recurrence. Radiotherapy may at times lead to side effects after one have had sessions of a few weeks of treatment, but the patient may start feeling better as the treatment ends.
Possible Side Effects Of Radiation In Breast Cancer Women
Skin Redness And Soreness
Many women may not show any skin troubles during radiotherapy, but a few others may develop a sore skin. It all depends on the kind of skin one has and the amount of skin region that has been treated. Those who undergo a skin reaction, may find the skin turning sore and red similar to as during sunburn.
This soreness develops gradually after many sessions of radiotherapy have occurred. Developed sore skin has a tendency to get peeled off, but gets healed quickly. These skin reactions get settled within 2 to 4 weeks after the end of the treatment. In certain instances, redness or skin darkening may happen on the opposite side of the area being treated like back in case of radiation to breast region.
Swelling And Discomfort Of Breast Area
Women may experience certain amount of swelling and discomfort in the breast, but that goes away after a few weeks of finishing the treatment. In case, the swelling and discomfort may not subside, do inform the doctor for further analysis.
Women undergoing radiation therapy may feel very tired with every radiation dose that is being performed. During the beginning of therapy, one may not feel tired at all, but tiredness soars high by the end of the therapy. One may feel like sleeping for 1 to 2 hours post radiation therapy and such fatigue makes the patient feel so lethargic and lack of energy. The tiredness may take several months to wade off.
Having a short walk each day will help to boost back the energy levels in the patients. Patients should choose that period of the day when they feel least tired. Radiation to breast may damage the nerves proceedings towards the arm and is called as brachial plexopathy. This results in pain, numbness and weakness in the arm, shoulder and hand. Radiation performed at axillary lymph nodes may lead to long term swelling called as lymphedema.
Several Side Effects Of Radiation On Other Breast Treatments
Radiation therapy in breast cancer patients affects certain procedures of breast reconstruction that otherwise might have been suitable. This is due to reduced blood supply in the treated breast area. Without an adequate blood supply, breast reconstruction using body tissues cannot be performed. Tissue expansion reconstruction is also not feasible as skin is no more stretchable as it was before the treatment.
Advancement Of Radiation Therapy Prevent Certain Side Effects
With recent advances in radiation therapy procedure have helped breast cancer women to avoid undergoing long term side effects of the therapy. But, these may happen at times and can include lung inflammation, rib fractures, scarring or heart damage.
Rib fractures and lung inflammation may get resolved on its own and heart damage is prevented by avoiding focusing radiation directly towards the heart.