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Pelvic radiation - discharge

Radiation of the pelvis - discharge; Cancer treatment - pelvic radiation; Prostate cancer - pelvic radiation; Ovarian cancer - pelvic radiation; Cervical cancer - pelvic radiation; Uterine cancer - pelvic radiation; Rectal cancer - pelvic 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.

What to Expect at Home

About 2 weeks after your first radiation treatment:

Women may have:

Both men and women may lose interest in sex.

Skin Care

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.

Take care of the treatment area.

Tell your provider if you have any breaks or openings in your skin.

Wear loose-fitting clothing around your stomach and pelvis.

Keep the buttocks and pelvic area clean and dry.

Other Self-care

Ask your provider how much and what types of liquids you should drink each day.

Your provider may place you on a low-residue diet that limits the amount of roughage you eat. You need to eat enough protein and calories to keep your weight up. Ask your provider about liquid food supplements. These can help you get enough calories.

Do not take a laxative. Ask your provider about medicines to help with diarrhea or the need to urinate often.

You may feel tired after a few days. If so:

Watch out for early signs of lymphedema (fluid build-up). Tell your provider if you have:

Intimacy

It is normal to have less interest in sex during and right after radiation treatments end. Your interest in sex will probably come back after your treatment is over and your life returns to normal.

Women who get radiation treatment in their pelvic areas may have shrinking or tightening of the vagina. Your provider will advise you about using a dilator, which can help gently stretch vaginal walls.

Follow-up Care

Your provider may check your blood counts regularly, especially if the radiation treatment area on your body is large.

Related Information

Colorectal cancer
Prostate cancer
Ovarian cancer
Cervical cancer
Endometrial cancer
Eating extra calories when sick - adults
Drinking water safely during cancer treatment
Safe eating during cancer treatment
When you have diarrhea
When you have nausea and vomiting
Radiation therapy - questions to ask your doctor
Diarrhea - what to ask your health care provider - adult

References

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.

Mitsis D, Beaupin LK, O'Connor T. Reproductive Complications. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 43.

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 July 1, 2022.

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Review Date: 1/25/2022  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. 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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