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Questions You May Have About External Radiation Therapy

Soft tissue: Permanent darkening of the skin, telangiectasias spidery red marks and permanent hair loss may occur with radiation. Radiation may also result in lymphedema , swelling that occurs as the result of damage to the lymph channels, for example, the arm swelling seen in some women who have had breast cancer. Damage to the salivary glands and tear ducts from radiation to the head and neck region may result in permanent dry mouth or dry eyes.

Radiation to the abdomen and pelvic regions may affect the bladder, the colon, and pelvic organs leading to impotence and infertility. There are a number of things you can do yourself in addition to precautions taken by your doctor to reduce your risk of long term complications related to radiation therapy.

There is the potential for a number of long term side effects related to radiation therapy, but most of the time the benefits greatly exceed the risks.

Conditions We Treat

Clinical studies are in progress looking at methods to decrease the risk of late effects of radiation therapy, many with promising results. Limiting processed foods and red meats can help ward off cancer risk. These recipes focus on antioxidant-rich foods to better protect you and your loved ones. Sign up and get your guide! Filopei, J. Radiation-Induced Heart Disease. Cardiology in Review.

Krasin, M. Seminars in Radiation Oncology.

From hopelessness to hope

National Cancer Institute. Health Professional Version. Stubblefield, M. More in Lung Cancer. Factors Affecting the Risk of Late Effects. Your age at the time of radiation The dose of radiation you receive The number of treatment sessions The type of cancer treated The area of the body which receives radiation Other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy Other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Potential late effects include:. Radiation-Induced Hypothyroidism. Radiation Fibrosis Syndrome. Radiation-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis. Heart Disease Related to Radiation Therapy. Radiation can affect the heart in several different ways causing:. Coronary artery disease: Coronary artery disease caused by atherosclerosis can be a side effect of radiation.


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Valvular heart disease: Radiation may result in damage to the heart valves. Pericardial conditions: Conditions s such as pericardial effusions a build-up of fluid between the tissue layers lining the heart and constrictive pericarditis may occur. Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy , a weakening of the heart muscle may occur, especially when combined with some chemotherapy drugs such as Adriamycin doxorubicin. Abnormal heart rhythms arrhythmias.

Radiation Therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Secondary Cancers. Cognitive Concerns. Musculoskeletal Concerns. A number of different musculoskeletal concerns can arise years or decades after radiation. Don't smoke: Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer after chest radiation. Talk to your physician about any new respiratory symptoms that may suggest radiation pneumonitis. Ask about clinical trials designed to reduce the risk of late effects of radiation. If you will be having chest radiation, ask if respiratory gating is available. Ask your doctor about physical therapy if your movements are restricted. A Word From Verywell.

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Lung cancer - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

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Lung Cancer Treatment

Evidence Document. Additional Supporting Information Overview. Composition of Expert Panels. Organizational Chart of AC Committees.

Medical Specialty Organization Representation. Radiation Dose Assessment Introduction. Procedure Information. Patient Age Definitions. Citation Information. Terms and Conditions. Provide Feedback Our enhanced commenting web site allows us to better track and manage feedback coming from a variety of sources. Clinical Decision Support.