Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Southern Tasmania Area Health ServicesTasmanian Health Service - Southern Region

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

At the initial consultation the radiation oncologist will discuss potential side effects from the treatment with the patient.  Side-effects are dependent on the area of the body being treated and the dose.  It is also important to remember that everyone is different.  Patients having similar treatment may experience different reactions.  Common side-effects to any treatment site can include tiredness and skin irritation.

The body works hard to help repair itself.  This uses a lot of energy and can cause tiredness.  Some patients will feel exhaustion from the beginning and others may not experience it at all.  It is important for patients to look after themselves throughout the treatment course.  For some this may mean getting plenty of rest, and cutting back on work if needed.

Skin may become red, sore or itchy during treatment.  This will only happen in the area being treated and is likened to 'sunburn'.  Again, some patients will experience this side-effect and others will not, with varying degrees between.  The nursing staff will advise on the creams to use during treatment and closely monitor any side-effects the patient may experience.

At the planning appointment and during treatment review appointments, the nursing staff will inform the patient of all relevant side-effects and provide a range of solutions and advice to make the treatment experience more comfortable.