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The radiation therapy is a treatment using ionizing radiations for the necessary destruction and controlled specific cell type generally malignancies.

It can be used in conjunction with surgery (before or after it), complementary to chemotherapy treatment or as an exclusive treatment. It is most often used to prevent the appearance of new tumor foci.

At other times, it can relieve pain, stop bleeding, and control other symptoms caused by the disease.

Radiation therapy currently involves a series of fairly sophisticated steps, made possible by advanced technology, to achieve tumor treatment while preserving nearby healthy tissues as much as possible.

How is it administered?

To apply a radiotherapy treatment, devices are used that are usually large and often make noises or can rotate around the person who is receiving it. You must remain calm since everything is controlled by the specialized personnel who apply the treatment.

Said personnel first of all help the patient to position himself on the treatment table in the most suitable position, very often with an immobilization device that allows him to maintain his posture, which is essential for the good result of the treatment, since it has been designed to treat specific areas while protecting others that are in its proximity. When everything is ready to start irradiation the staff will leave the treatment room.

Its duration is short, in general several minutes and during the same the patient remains only in the therapy room, although at all times he is observed by a closed circuit television and ambient loudspeaker, with which any demand of his will be attended to immediately. Treatment is applied daily, usually Monday through Friday, and for a total period of time that is dependent on the disease, but is often long (5-7 weeks). Radiation does not stay in the body nor is it contagious.

The treatment is completely painless. A specialist doctor is responsible for the treatment.

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

As with any other treatment, radiation therapy can produce – in addition to the beneficial effect that is expected from it – unwanted changes in the body, which we know as side effects.

The appearance and intensity of these effects depends on the area and dose of treatment, the general condition of the patient, the concurrence of other treatments such as chemotherapy and other factors. Side effects do not necessarily appear, nor are they of equal intensity in all people. If they do occur, they usually do so when treatment is advanced and not at the beginning of it. In general, they are transitory, disappearing at the end of the treatment or a few weeks later. There are few effects that can persist in the long term. The specialist doctor informs the patient of them before starting therapy. Side effects can be reduced by trying during treatment to lead a healthy life: sufficient rest, adequate food, distraction. Women should avoid getting pregnant.

We will describe the most common unwanted effects depending on the area irradiated and how they can be prevented and treated.

If the treatment area includes the mouth

To a greater or lesser degree, there may be: taste alterations, dry mouth, appearance of sores that cause difficulty in chewing and swallowing, dental disorders.

What to do to prevent and alleviate?

  • No Smoking.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Take warm foods, avoiding irritants, acids and carbonated drinks.
  • Rinse with chamomile water (1 liter of water + 1 sachet of chamomile) and baking soda (2 tablespoons) 10 – 12 times a day.
  • Drink 2-3 liters of water a day.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • If possible, visit the dentist in advance, indicating the treatment to be received for the appropriate preventive measures.
  • If you need to go to the dentist after finishing the radiotherapy, it is important that you show him the report of the same. In addition to what is described, inform your doctor of your discomfort as soon as possible as he will indicate if you need any type of specific treatment.
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If the treatment area includes the upper abdomen

Not always have to produce all the effects described and their degree of intensity is also variable, but it is worth knowing that you may experience a feeling of tiredness, decrease or loss of appetite, refusal of certain foods, alteration of the taste of food, nausea, vomiting , abdominal pain and diarrhea. In any case, you should not worry as they are transient and will disappear in a short time at the end of the irradiation.

What to do to prevent and alleviate?

  • Eating small frequent meals better than three large meals.
  • Eat slowly, chewing well.
  • It is preferable not to go to bed immediately after meals and if possible take a short walk – even around the house – for the first 20 or 30 minutes, after finishing eating.
  • Drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day, trying to do it in small quantities frequently if you feel nauseous, since drinking too much at once can increase the feeling of nausea.

If the treatment area is the lower abdomen-pelvis

Not necessarily, but they can present in different degrees of intensity: abdominal pain, diarrhea, feeling of urgent need to evacuate ( tenesmus ) and incomplete evacuation of stools, itching or stinging when urinating , increased number of urinations being generally very rare. In people who have hemorrhoids , symptoms related to them (acute hemorrhoidal crisis) often occur in the form of pain and bleeding after bowel movements.

What to do to prevent and alleviate?

  • Monitor how the stools are both in number and consistency and communicate it to the personnel who treat you. The doctor will assess if you need any treatment or should only modify the diet.
  • The diet to be carried out in case of diarrhea is an astringent diet. Vegetables, legumes and fruits should be eliminated from it, except for ripe banana and apple, and sometimes also milk. You can eat cooked or grilled carrots, potatoes, fish or chicken, ripe banana and apple. Eating slowly and chewing well is beneficial. Keep in mind that, although this type of diet may be unappetizing or “boring”, you will have to maintain it for a short time, since as mentioned before, the symptoms do not last for a long time.
  • If there is stinging when urinating, it is recommended to drink 2.5 to 3 liters of water a day. In addition, the doctor will perform urinalysis and recommend a specific treatment if necessary.
  • Taking a sitz bath with warm chamomile water several times a day will relieve discomfort in the anal region. If you have hemorrhoids, you should report it since with the opportune treatment it can improve significantly.

Alterations in the skin of the treatment field

Changes will occur in the skin of the irradiated area, usually from the 3rd or 4th week of treatment, and its intensity will depend on the skin type of each person and will be enhanced if they have received or are receiving chemotherapy (especially certain drugs) . The alterations occur only in the skin of the treatment field and not in distant areas.

What to do to prevent and alleviate?

  • Avoid irritating the skin in the treatment area.
  • The clothing that is in contact with the irradiated area must be made of natural fabrics – cotton or thread – avoiding nylon fabrics. It is also preferable to wear loose clothing in that area.
  • If you are receiving the breast treatment, avoid wearing a bra as much as possible. When it is essential, use cotton.
  • Don’t scratch.
  • To relieve the burning sensation, you can put compresses soaked in chamomile water on the area and keep them for a few minutes.
  • Do not use soap, bath gel, deodorant, ointments, talcum powder in the treatment area … Wash only with water, gently. To dry do not rub.
  • Do not shave the irradiated area.
  • It would be desirable not to shave. If necessary, it is recommended never to use a blade. Carry out a smooth and superficial shave, twice a week and with an electric razor.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure of irradiated skin during treatment and the first year after finishing it.

 

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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