Things You Should Know...About Brain Radiation
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 and scalp 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 area of treatment. Shampoos approved by the Palomar Radiation Oncology Department are: Baby Shampoo, Aveno (Oatmeal), Aloe Vera shampoo (Trader Joe’s) for sensitive skin. Consult with the nurses before you use any lotions or ointments on this area. The radiation therapist will tell you not to apply any lotion or ointment to the treatment site before your daily treatments. Once your treatment is complete, you may apply lotions or ointments on the area. This is to prevent any adverse effect the radiation exposure may produce with the lotion.
- Hair loss: You may want to cut your hair short before beginning treatment. The hair loss begins about 7-10 days into treatment. You may lose all of your hair, or patches of it. Many patients wear hats, scarves, or wigs. It is expected to grow back in six months to one year.
- 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 levels can be performed during treatment as long as you stay within your levels of comfort. It is 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.
- Medications: While undergoing radiation treatment, you may be prescribed a medication called Decadron. This decreases swelling and inflammation caused by the tumor. Its side effects include increased urination, increased appetite, leg cramps, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and swelling in your extremities. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, report them to the nurse. The Radiation Oncologist may change the dosage of the Decadron, according to your response. Make sure you let the nurse know, before you have finished your medication, that you will need a refill for your prescription.
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