Radiation Therapy In Cancer Treatment: Some Tips To Help Ease The Pain And Discomfort
Radiation therapy is a common approach and response treatment for many types of cancer. But if you and your doctor decide that radiation therapy is the best option, be prepared to accept the side effects that come with it. These side effects include pain, burning, extra dry skin, itchy rashes, blisters and permanent pigmentation in the application site, which makes your skin look permanently discolored (red to dark brown in color). The following are some tips that can help ease the pain and discomfort of your treatments afterwards.
For the Pain
Your doctor can prescribe a pain pill for your pain, but for more immediate and localized relief, you may be able to use a topical anesthetic or liniment. These may also be prescriptions from your doctor if there is any concern of interaction between your radiation treatments and the over-the-counter liniments or anesthetics. Otherwise, these products are available on most pharmacy shelves. Also, ice packs are highly recommended because they can help reduce the burning sensations you may feel.
For the Burning
Because of the very nature of radiation therapy, you will have treatment site burns or burning sensations. Ice will help cool these areas, as will cold showers or long soaks in a cool pool. Cold cabbage leaves are a known remedy for pain, swelling and inflammation of engorged breasts, so sometimes doctors will recommend this for other inflamed areas of the body as an alternative to medications and preventive measure for "ice burns." (Ice burns occur when really cold, frozen things are placed on bare skin without a towel or something to prevent damage to the skin. In a patient who is receiving radiation therapy and already has burned skin, the cells may be at risk of dying completely if they come into direct contact with something frozen. Always use a barrier of some kind.)
For the Extra Dry Skin
There is no doubt about it; radiation therapy dries out the skin. It saps it of moisture as it attempts to burn down through the flesh and the targeted tumors below. Perfume-free and alcohol-free moisturizers are the best things, as are moisturizers with oatmeal or shea butter. Chamomile oil might calm the itchiness of the dry skin too. Ask your doctor to recommend a product to help if he or she does not send you home with a jar or tube of moisturizer in your post-treatment bag of extras. Rashes and blisters need extra medical care, in which case you may be under the watchful eye of your doctor for a couple of days.
For more information and options for relieving the side affects of radiation, talk with clinics and doctors who specialize in radiation therapy in your area.