Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells. Only a doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat cancer is called a radiation oncologist. A radiation therapy regimen, or schedule, usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time.
Why radiation therapy is needed?
According to research*, there are different reasons why a person must undergo radiation therapy:
- Radiation therapy is given as the main treatment with the aim of causing the signs and symptoms of cancer
to reduce or disappear. This is called curative or definitive radiation therapy.
- It is often used before (neoadjuvant) or after (adjuvant) treatments such as surgery to make the treatment
more effective. It can also be used at the same time as some treatments – when it is combined with chemotherapy, it is known as chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy
- It can also help to relieve pain and other symptoms by making cancer smaller or stopping it from spreading. This is known as a palliative treatment.
- Skin changes
You may encounter tenderness, redness, dryness, and itchiness. Each person may have different experiences but normally the skin changes do happen during the second week of treatment.
You are susceptible to overtiredness due to stress, worry, traveling to and from appointments. Do take a rest when needed.
- Emotional changes
Anxiety grows. Signs you may notice, you have difficulty in sleeping or you may feel restless. Talk to someone you can rely on or a professional team who can help with the changes of your emotion.
The After Care
Being proactive after the treatment is completed can be very helpful especially to your emotional changes. It is very important to try to look after your wellbeing as much as possible:
- Eat well.
- Stay active (it can help you cope and PTSD will most likely not going to happen)
- Talk to a counselor, close friend or psychologist if anxiety gets worse.
- Never rub, scratch or scrub the area that was treated.
- Gently wash treated skin with warm water and mild soap.
- Gently pat dry with a soft towel.
- Protect the skin from all sources of heat or cold.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable open collar shirts.
Do not use any creams or lotions in the treatment area unless directed by your health care team. The following list of creams is based on every person personal experiences and recommendations. One of the creams may or may not suitable for you. Always ask your physician before applying to your skin that was treated with radiation therapy.
- Glaxal base cream – 3 times a day from the first day of treatment.
- Argentyn 23
- Aquaphor Healing Ointment
- Silvadene Cream
- Melaleuca Renew Lotion
- Jeans Cream
- Aloe plant – a natural remedy
Reference: *MB Barton et al., “Estimating the demand for radiotherapy from the evidence: a review of changes from 2003 to 2012”, Radiotherapy and Oncology, vol. 112, no. 1, 2014, pages 140–44. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2014.03.024.
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