Chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells, but because these drugs travel Some chemo drugs cause long-term side effects, like heart or nerve. Treatments can cause a variety of side effects, from nausea and hot types and combinations, and side effects and how to manage them. Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling. These side effects depend on which part of the body received.
the of for effects side treatments? What these are some
Social workers are available to provide a variety of support services to you and your family. They can provide counseling to help you and your family cope with the diagnosis of cancer and with your treatment.
They may also help arrange for home healthcare and other services. Nutritionists, also called dietitians, can help you maintain your weight during treatment. They will help you modify your eating plan if the side effects of treatment are affecting your appetite, will determine what you can eat and can provide recipes, menu suggestions and information on ready-to-use nutritional supplements.
Physical therapists use exercises to help your body function properly while you are undergoing treatment. These exercises can help manage side effects, alleviate pain and keep you healthy. Dentists may be involved if you are receiving radiation for oral or head and neck cancers. They will help prevent the radiation from damaging the healthy areas of your mouth, caring for teeth, gums and other tissues in the mouth, and may recommend preventive dental work before radiation.
They will also help manage oral side effects of cancer therapy, such as dry mouth. Some patients are concerned about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective. Before you begin receiving radiation therapy, your radiation oncology team will carefully tailor your plan to make sure that you receive safe and accurate treatment.
Treatment will be carefully planned to focus on the cancer while avoiding healthy organs in the area. Throughout your treatment, members of your team check and re-check your plan. Special computers are also used to monitor and double-check the treatment machines to make sure that the proper treatment is given. If you undergo external beam radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive after treatment ends because the radiation does not stay in your body.
However, if you undergo brachytherapy, tiny radioactive sources will be implanted inside your body, in the tumor or in the tissue surrounding the tumor, either temporarily or permanently. Your radiation oncologist will explain any special precautions that you or your family and friends may need to take.
Some patients worry that radiation therapy will cause cancer years after treatment. While this is a very small risk, it is most important to cure the cancer now. Talk with your radiation oncologist or radiation oncology nurse about any fears you may have. Like all therapies, radiation can cause side effects. See page 17 for more information. Once the diagnosis has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several cancer specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, to discuss your treatment choices.
These specialists will work together to help recommend the best treatment for you. In some cases, your cancer will need to be treated by using more than one type of treatment. For example, if you have breast cancer, you might have surgery to remove the tumor by a surgeon , then have radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near your breast by a radiation oncologist.
You also might receive chemotherapy by a medical oncologist to destroy cancer cells that have traveled to other parts of the body. Meeting With a Radiation Oncologist If you are considering radiation therapy, you must first meet with a radiation oncologist to see if radiation therapy is right for you. During your first visit, your doctor will evaluate your need for radiation therapy and its likely results. This includes reviewing your current medical problems, past medical history, past surgical history, family history, medications, allergies and lifestyle.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam to assess the extent of your disease and judge your general physical condition. You may also be seen by a medical student, a resident radiation oncologist in training , a nurse practitioner, a physician's assistant or a nurse. After reviewing your medical tests, including CT scans, MRI scans and PET scans, and completing a thorough examination, your radiation oncologist will discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of radiation therapy and answer your questions.
Simulation To be most effective, radiation therapy must be aimed precisely at the same target or targets each and every time treatment is given. The process of measuring your body and marking your skin to help your team direct the beams of radiation safely and exactly to their intended locations is called simulation.
During simulation, your radiation oncologist and radiation therapist place you on the simulation machine in the exact position you will be in during the actual treatment. Your radiation therapist, under your doctor's supervision, then marks the area to be treated directly on your skin or on immobilization devices.
Immobilization devices are molds, casts, headrests or other devices that help you remain in the same position during the entire treatment. Your radiation oncologist may request that special blocks or shields be made for you. These blocks or shields are put in the external beam therapy machine before each of your treatments and are used to shape the radiation to your tumor and keep the rays from hitting normal tissue.
Multileaf collimators may also be used to shape the beam and achieve safe delivery of your radiation treatment. Treatment Planning Once you have finished with the simulation, your radiation oncologist and other members of the treatment team review the information they obtained during simulation along with your previous medical tests to develop a treatment plan. Often, a special treatment planning CT scan is done to help with the simulation and treatment planning.
This CT scan is in addition to your diagnostic CT scan. Frequently, sophisticated treatment-planning computer software is used to help design the best possible treatment plan. After reviewing all of this information, your doctor will write a prescription that outlines exactly how much radiation you will receive and to what parts of your body. External Beam Radiation Therapy Treatments When you undergo external beam radiation therapy treatment, each session is painless, just like getting an X-ray.
The radiation is directed at your tumor from a machine located away from your body, usually a linear accelerator. External beam radiation is noninvasive, unlike surgery which is an invasive process. One of the benefits of radiation therapy is that it is usually given as a series of outpatient treatments meaning you don't have to stay in the hospital.
You may not need to miss work or experience the type of recuperation period that may follow other treatments. Treatments are usually scheduled five days a week, Monday through Friday, and continue for one to 10 weeks. The number of radiation treatments you will need depends on the size, location and type of cancer you have, the intent of the treatment, your general health and other medical treatments you may be receiving.
The radiation therapist will give you your external beam treatment following your radiation oncologist's instructions. It will take five to 15 minutes for you to be positioned for treatment and for the equipment to be set up. If an immobilization device was made during simulation, it will be used during every treatment to make sure that you are in the exact same position every day.
Once you are positioned correctly, the therapist will leave the room and go into the control room next door to closely monitor you on a television screen while giving the radiation. There is a microphone in the treatment room so you can always talk with the therapist if you have any concerns.
The machine can be stopped at any time if you are feeling sick or uncomfortable. The radiation therapist may move the treatment machine and treatment table to target the radiation beam to the exact area of the tumor.
The machine might make noises during treatment that sound like clicking, knocking or whirring, but the radiation therapist is in complete control of the machine at all times. The radiation therapy team carefully aims the radiation in order to reduce the dose to the normal tissue surrounding the tumor. Still, radiation will affect some healthy cells.
Time between daily treatments allows your healthy cells to repair much of the radiation effect, while cancer cells are not as likely to survive the changes. Sometimes a course of treatment is interrupted for a day or more. This may happen if you develop side effects that require a break in treatment.
These missed treatments may be made up by adding treatments at the end. Try to arrive on time and not miss any of your appointments. Time spent in the treatment room may vary depending on the type of radiation, but it generally ranges from 10 to 40 minutes.
Most patients are treated on an outpatient basis, and many can continue with normal daily activities. Your radiation oncologist monitors your daily treatment and may alter your radiation dose based on these observations. Also, your doctor may order blood tests, X-rays and other tests to see how your body is responding to treatment. If the tumor shrinks significantly, another simulation may be required.
This allows your radiation oncologist to change the treatment to destroy the rest of the tumor and spare even more normal tissue. Weekly Status Checks During radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist and nurse will see you regularly to follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having any side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects such as medication , and address any concerns you may have.
As treatment progresses, your doctor may make changes in the schedule or treatment plan depending on your response or reaction to the therapy. Your radiation therapy team may gather on a regular basis with other healthcare professionals to review your case to ensure your treatment is proceeding as planned.
During these sessions, all the members of the team discuss your progress as well as any concerns. Weekly Beam Films During your course of treatment, correct positions of the treatment beams will be regularly verified with images made using the treatment beam itself. These images called port films, beam films or portal verification represent an important quality assurance check, but do not evaluate the tumor itself. Brachytherapy Brachytherapy is the placement of radioactive sources in or just next to a tumor.
The word brachytherapy comes from the Greek "brachy" meaning short distance. During brachytherapy, the radioactive sources may be left in place permanently or only temporarily, depending upon your cancer. To position the sources accurately, special catheters or applicators are used.
There are two main types of brachytherapy - intracavitary treatment and interstitial treatment. But until more is known about the effects of vitamins on chemo, keep these points in mind:. Do not take any physical symptoms you have lightly. Some side effects are short-lived and minor, but others may be a sign of serious problems. You should not be the judge. Make sure you know how to reach someone on your team any time, including after hours, weekends, and holidays.
Contact your cancer care team right away if you have any of the following symptoms during chemo treatment:. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing. February 11, Last Revised: For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy. Chemotherapy Side Effects What causes side effects?
The normal cells most likely to be damaged by chemo are: Blood-forming cells in the bone marrow Hair follicles Cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and reproductive system Some chemo drugs can damage cells in the heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system. What do I need to know about side effects? The severity of side effects how bad they are varies greatly from person to person.
Your doctor may give you medicines to help prevent certain side effects before they happen. Some chemo drugs cause long-term side effects, like heart or nerve damage or fertility problems.
Still, many people have no long-term problems from chemo. How long do side effects last? What are common side effects? Here are some of the more common side effects caused by chemotherapy: Fatigue Hair loss Easy bruising and bleeding Infection Anemia low red blood cell counts Nausea and vomiting Appetite changes Constipation Diarrhea Mouth, tongue, and throat problems such as sores and pain with swallowing Nerve and muscle problems such as numbness, tingling, and pain Skin and nail changes such as dry skin and color change Urine and bladder changes and kidney problems Weight changes Chemo brain, which can affect concentration and focus Mood changes Changes in libido and sexual function Fertility problems Chemotherapy drug interactions and side effects When looking at how best to combine chemo drugs, doctors must look at interactions between chemo drugs and other medicines the person is taking, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.
Some common side effects of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment include:. Late effects are medical conditions that develop some years after treatment, for example, heart disease, clouding of the eye lens cataracts , or not being able to have children infertility.
Because treatments have improved, the treatment that people have now is less likely to cause long term problems than treatment in the past. It can be difficult to cope with problems that develop after treatment.
It can also help to know about the risk of developing late effects. Ask your specialist doctor or nurse about possible side effects. Keeping as healthy as possible can help to reduce the chance of some problems developing. This includes not smoking, eating a well balanced diet, keeping a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Talk to your treatment team about any symptom that worries you. You don't have to wait for your next appointment.
Treatment and Side Effects
Many of these effects stop when the treatment ends. Side effects might be Some common side effects of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment include. Speak up about any side effects you have, or changes you notice, so your health care team can treat or help you to reduce these side effects. Every person's reaction to treatment is unique, and some of these side effects might not affect you, or you might have a side effect not listed here. No one can.