What is external radiation therapy

What is external radiation therapy?

Whether undesirable effects occur during or after the radiation treatment depends on many factors: What dose is the radiation used? Which region of the body is irradiated, which organs are in the irradiation field? In addition, not everyone reacts to radiation in the same way.

Most of the side effects are temporary. They can start a few days after starting treatment, and some last for a few weeks.

Fatigue is the most common general side effect. It can occur after just a few treatment sessions. The reason for this is not exactly known. It is believed, among other things, that it burdens the body to break down dead tumor cells.

The adverse effects directly in the radiation field include skin irritation. Similar to sunburn, the skin can become sensitive and reddened easily. After three to four weeks, the skin may become dry and peeling, sometimes with itching. After that, it often becomes darker due to increased pigment formation.

Radiation treatment of the digestive tract can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

However, many of these side effects can be alleviated by countermeasures such as medication.

If possible, medical staff will try to shield the reproductive organs (testicles and ovaries) from the rays so as not to affect fertility. If you need one in the pelvic area, your doctor will inform you about possible consequential damage and advise how you can limit it.