Many cancer patients lose weight unexpectedly during radiation therapy because they struggle with side effects caused from treatment. Maintaining proper nutrition during radiation therapy can increase your chances of successful treatment and improve your quality of life during and after treatment.
Weight loss was significant (t-test two-paired, p-value <0.001) and ranged from 1.1% to 18.9%. It can be said that one in two cancer patients (47.8%) experienced a critical weight loss. In high doses and advanced disease, the risk of severe weight loss was higher (Table 2).
Loss of appetite
Feeling sick and tired during radiotherapy can make you lose your appetite, which could lead to weight loss. But it's important to try to eat healthily and maintain your weight during treatment. Tell your care team if you do not feel you're eating enough.
Weight gain can be a side effect of your cancer treatment. It is important to talk to your health care team if you notice changes in your weight, eating habits, or bloating. This will help them find the best support for you.
Radiation therapy to the head and neck can cause side effects that make it difficult to take in adequate amounts of food and fluids. These side effects include loss of appetite, changes in taste or loss of taste, painful chewing and swallowing, mouth sores, dry mouth and nausea.
Many people who get radiation therapy have fatigue. Fatigue is feeling exhausted and worn out. It can happen all at once or come on slowly. People feel fatigue in different ways and you may feel more or less fatigue than someone else who is getting the same amount of radiation therapy to the same part of the body.
Don't wear tight clothing over the treatment area. It's important not to rub, scrub or scratch any sensitive spots. Also avoid putting anything that is very hot or very cold—such as heating pads or ice packs—on your treated skin.
The side effects of radiotherapy usually peak up to two weeks after treatment has finished. The effects of radiotherapy continue developing, and it may take a further couple of weeks to several months for you to feel normal, depending on the area of the body that has been treated.
Common physical side effects of radiation therapy include: Skin changes. Some people who receive radiation therapy experience dryness, itching, blistering, or peeling on the skin in the area being treated. Skin changes from radiation therapy usually go away a few weeks after treatment ends.
The radiation stays in the body for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Most people receive internal radiation therapy for just a few minutes. Sometimes, internal radiation therapy can be given for more time. If so, they stay in a private room to limit other people's exposure to radiation.
They plan it very precisely using your body measurements. This means if you lose or gain weight during radiotherapy it can change the amount of radiation that the cancer or nearby healthy cells receive. Because of this, it is important that your weight stays around what it was when you had your planning scan.
Typically, people have treatment sessions 5 times per week, Monday through Friday. This schedule usually continues for 3 to 9 weeks, depending on your personal treatment plan. This type of radiation therapy only targets the tumor. But it will affect some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Most people getting radiation therapy feel fatigued. It does not mean that your cancer is getting worse. It does not mean that the treatment is not working. In fact, it is normal to feel very tired during this time.
The most common early side effects are fatigue (feeling tired) and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area. Late side effects can take months or even years to develop.
Daily preparation - CT and treatment
When you attend for your CT planning scan and daily treatment, your radiographers will ask you to empty your bladder. They will then ask you to drink 500ml of water. This helps to ensure you have a comfortably full bladder. It is important that you drink the water quickly.
Radiotherapy side effects tend to get worse as you progress through your treatment. So you might not feel tired at the beginning of your course but might do towards the end and for a few weeks afterwards. It's impossible to predict who will feel tired during treatment, some do and others don't.
Feeling very tired and lacking energy (fatigue) for day-to-day activities is the most common side effect of radiation therapy to any area of the body. During treatment, your body uses a lot of energy dealing with the effects of radiation on normal cells.
Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die. This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body.
Some cancers are difficult to treat and have high rates of recurrence. Glioblastoma, for example, recurs in nearly all patients, despite treatment. The rate of recurrence among patients with ovarian cancer is also high at 85%.
Radiotherapy with the aim of curing cancer usually lasts between 1 to 7 weeks. For radiotherapy to relieve symptoms, you might have anything between a single treatment to 2 weeks of treatment. It might be longer than this. Your doctor will tell you how many treatments you'll have.
Avoid raw vegetables and fruits, and other hard, dry foods such as chips or pretzels. It's also best to avoid salty, spicy or acidic foods if you are experiencing these symptoms. Your care team can recommend nutrient-based oral care solutions if you are experiencing mucositis or mouth sores caused by cancer treatment.
Cancer treatments, like radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can sometimes cause short-term physical problems. Some treatments can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun. These effects can limit the amount of travelling you can do – or the type of activities you do while you're away.
For example, a patient receiving radiation therapy may be fatigued during the day and take extended naps. During active treatment, this can be helpful. But they may develop a habit of continuing to take naps, which can affect their ability to fall asleep at night.
Skin changes usually occur one to two weeks after your treatment begins and may last one to two weeks after your last treatment. You may shower or bathe throughout your radiation therapy. Your nurse will recommend a mild soap for you to use. It is important to keep skin folds clean and dry.