Radiation - brain - discharge; Cancer - brain radiation; Lymphoma - brain radiation; Leukemia - brain radiation
When you have radiation treatment for cancer, your body goes through changes. Follow your health care provider's instructions on how to care for yourself at home. Use the information below as a reminder.
Two weeks after radiation treatment starts, you might notice changes in your skin. Most of these symptoms go away after your treatments have stopped. These changes can be made worse by certain chemotherapies.
Your hair will begin to fall out about 2 weeks after radiation treatment starts. It may not grow back.
When you have radiation treatment, color markings are drawn on your skin. DO NOT remove them. These show where to aim the radiation. If they come off, DO NOT redraw them. Tell your provider instead.
To care for your hair:
If you wear a wig or toupee:
To care for your skin in the treatment area:
Keep the treatment area in the open air as much as possible. But stay away from very hot or cold temperatures.
Don't swim during treatment. Ask your provider when you can start swimming after treatment.
You need to eat enough protein and calories to keep your weight and strength up. Ask your provider about liquid food supplements that may help you get enough calories.
Avoid sugary snacks and drinks that may cause tooth decay.
You will likely feel tired after a few days. If so:
You may be taking a medicine called dexamethasone (Decadron) while you are getting radiation to the brain.
Your provider may check your blood counts regularly.
Avanzo M, Stancanello J, Jena R. Adverse effects to the skin and subcutaneous tissue. In: Rancati T, Claudio Fiorino C, eds. Modelling radiotherapy side effects: practical applications for planning optimization. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2019:chap 12.
Doroshow JH. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 169.
National Cancer Institute website. Radiation therapy and you: support for people with cancer. www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/radiationttherapy.pdf. Updated October 2016. Accessed February 12, 2020.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/16/2020
Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Surgery, Johnson City Medical Center, TN; St-Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck ND; Department of Neurosurgery Fort Sanders Medical Center, Knoxville TN. Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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