Radiation therapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. The side effects of radiation depend on the amount and type of radiation you get. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any side effects.
Here is an overview of how you may feel during or after having external beam radiation therapy:
The skin around the treatment area may become irritated. The skin may turn red, flake, or drain fluid.
You may have nausea or vomiting.
You may have diarrhea, with or without blood in the stool. You may also have cramping or feel as though you need to have a bowel movement. If you have these effects, they are likely to occur in the second or third week of treatment.
You may feel very tired until about a month after your treatment ends.
You may lose your pubic hair, or hair in other areas. Some of it may grow back.
These side effects can be unpleasant. As a rule, they do not generally become dangerous if monitored closely and appropriate interventions and adjustments in treatment are made. Some side effects may be controlled with medication, and some may be controlled with diet. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to deal with them and how to know when they have become serious. Usually these side effects go away in a few weeks, after you stop having radiation treatment.
Radiation therapy can cause some of these long-term side effects, too:
Radiation pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs)
Problems with wound healing
These long-term side effects are serious, so you should monitor them closely with your doctor. Talk with your doctor about ways to deal with side effects.