Radiation therapy side effects: 5 tips to cope

Like many types of cancer treatment, radiation therapy can cause side effects and have a profound impact on patients. Many of my patients suffer from lack of sleep, malnutrition, fatigue and skin irritation, and some aren’t quite sure how to cope. The good news is that there are some things you can do to ease the side effects of radiation therapy and maintain your health and sanity. Here’s what I recommend. Get enough sleep during radiation therapy Many patients have trouble sleeping after receiving a cancer diagnosis, while others begin to experience fatigue near the end of radiation therapy. Exhaustion and lack of sleep can affect your mood and make it harder to manage the stress of cancer treatment. But simple strategies, such as practicing a nighttime ritual, writing down your worries and avoiding naps, can help you cope with insomnia during treatment. It’s also important that you talk to your doctor about fatigue and insomnia since these issues often go undiagnosed. Get more tips to cope with insomnia. Treat skin exposed to radiation with TLC The skin in the area where you’re receiving radiation therapy may become red and sensitive, similar to a sunburn. Your radiation oncology nurse will review specific instructions for caring for your skin with you, so it’s important to take note. Some of the things your nurse will tell you include: Don’t wash off our marks from the radiation simulation. These help us ensure we’re direction the radiation to the right place during your actual treatment. Clean the skin gently with warm water and a mild soap. Avoid using powders, perfumes, lotions, aluminum deodorants...