Things You Should Know... About 3D or IMRT to the Prostate
Around the time that you have completed 7 – 10 radiation treatments you may experience some side effects. This is due to the radiation dose accumulating in your body causing a delayed effect. The side effects may continue during the rest of your treatment and begin to disappear 7-10 days after you have finished your treatments. The following are side effects and preventative measures that your nurse and Radiation Oncologist will cover in more detail at you consultation and regular weekly visits during your treatment cycle.
- Skin Reactions: Only the skin exposed to radiation will be affected. Keeping your skin clean with a mild soap and lukewarm water and drying with a soft towel will help. Do not scrub the skin with loofas or gritty soaps, or massage the area of treatment. Soaps approved by the Palomar Radiation Oncology Department are: Dove, Aveno (Oatmeal), Neutrogena for sensitive skin. Do not wear any deodorant or perfumes on the area of treatment. These items can contain skin irritants that may have an adverse effect with the radiation exposure. Consult with the nurses before you use any lotions or ointments on this area as well. The radiation therapist will tell you not to apply any lotion or ointment to the treatment site before your daily treatments. However, once your daily treatment is complete, you may apply lotions or ointments to the area. Again, this is to prevent any adverse effect the radiation exposure may produce with the lotion. Wearing loose clothes including, camisoles, boxer shorts, sweat suits or cotton clothing, can help prevent chafing.
- Temporary Hair Loss: Hair in the treatment area will most likely shed within the first few weeks. It will re-grow three to six months after your last treatment.
- Bowels: Discomfort may occur in the rectal and anal areas during treatment. This may include itching, burning, diarrhea, or painful bowel movements. The nurse can give you some handouts on diet restrictions and techniques to decrease these side effects.
- Bladder: You may notice an increase in frequency of urination or burning or pressure when urinating. Please notify the nurses if this occurs. It is a common side effect and can be treated with medication.
- Sexual Activity: Please discuss this with the Radiation Oncologist or nurse.
- Fatigue: During the last few weeks of treatment you may feel a decrease in energy levels. This is normal and we suggest that you listen to your body and rest when necessary. Exercise and work can be performed during treatment, as long as you stay within your levels of comfort. It may be a good idea to discuss your plans with the medical staff.
- Counseling: Our nursing staff has resources and experience in dealing with the many and varied needs that may arise during this challenging time in your life. Do not hesitate to ask questions, or ask for help. We are here for you and your family.
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