Acute side effects

Side effects may occur during the course of your radiotherapy. The first signs of these acute side effects begins 1 to 2 weeks into your treatment. These side effects are usually mild and almost always disappear within weeks to months from the completion of the whole course of radiotherapy. You will be looked after and reviewed regularly by your doctor during the course of your radiation. Should it be necessary, your doctors will be able to give you advice on the management of these, often mild, side effects.

Let’s take a look at some of these acute side effects.

The most visible side effects are seen usually on the skin. It begins with a mild reddening of the skin in the treated area. This is usually limited to the breast or chest wall that has been operated on.

Towards the end of radiotherapy, the skin redness increase, sometimes also becoming more pigmented and darker in colour. In the uncommon patients who are more sensitive to radiation, peeling of the skin resulting in dry flaky skin may occur.

Skin erythema towards the end of radiotherapy of the right breast.

Here are some simple DO’s and DONT’s in managing these side effects. Your breast care nurse and radiation doctor will be able to give you further advice.

DO’s

§  Attend your weekly reviews

§  Wear loose and comfortable clothing

        If wearing bra, use one without underwire

§  Keep chest clean and dry

§  Continue all prescribed medication

§  Eat normally

§  Shower but don’t soak in bath / sauna / spa

 

DON’T's 

§  Apply creams / gels on chest without consult

§  Don’t use scented soap or fragrance on chest

§  Don’t use Talc on chest

§  Swim or engage in strenuous activities

§  Rub or scratch the chest

§  Expose to direct sunlight

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