Like other cancer treatments, radiation may cause unpleasant side effects, such as overall fatigue, skin irritation, and other side effects depending on the part of the body being treated.
Every person reacts differently to treatment. Any side effects you might have depend on the type of cancer, location, dose of radiation, and your general health. Some people have no side effects at all, while others have quite a few. There’s no way to know who might have side effects. Before treatment, ask your cancer care team what you might expect.
Sweating is heavy perspiration that can happen at night or even when the room is cool. There may be enough to soak your clothes. Such sweating is common when a fever breaks. You may notice that you sweat a lot a short time after shaking chills.
Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2018
Cancer genetic counseling involves having a certified genetic counselor help you and your family understand your inherited cancer risk. Inherited cancer risk may be passed from parent to child. A genetic counselor explains available genetic tests and what they mean. He or she can also offer information about cancer screening, prevention, and treatment options and provide support.
Anxiety (a feeling of worry or unease), fear, uncertainty, anger, and sadness are common feelings that patients and families sometimes have when coping with cancer. They are normal responses to the many stresses of cancer.
Pain is one of the most common symptoms in cancer patients and often has a negative impact on patients’ functional status and quality of life. The goal of the following summary is to provide evidence-based, up-to-date, and practical information on the management of cancer pain.
Effective pain management can generally be accomplished by paying attention to the following steps:
A person with a poor appetite or no appetite may eat much less than normal or may not eat at all. A poor appetite can be caused by a changed sense of taste or smell, feeling full, tumor growth, dehydration (see the section called “Fluids (lack of) and dehydration”), or the side effects of treatment. A poor appetite can be made worse by many things, such as trouble swallowing, depression, pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Swelling (edema) is a build-up of water in the tissues. This can be caused by retaining salt and water due to medicines or heart, liver, or kidney failure. It can sometimes be due to poor nutrition, pelvic tumors, or a blockage in the veins or lymph system. Fluid can also build up in the belly. It can make the belly hard and swollen.
What happens if I get CIPN?
Your health care team needs to know if your chemo is causing signs of chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), so be sure to tell them about any changes you notice. During treatment, they will ask you about your symptoms and watch you to see if the CIPN is getting worse. Your team may need to delay your treatment, use smaller doses of the chemo drugs, or stop treatment with the drug that is causing the CIPN until your symptoms get better. These actions must be started right away to prevent long-term damage that won’t get better.
Any change in your usual sleeping habits can cause a sleep problem. People who are getting treatment for cancer may get more tired and may need to sleep more than usual. Sometimes, the opposite occurs and people have trouble sleeping. Reasons for changes in usual sleeping habits include pain, anxiety, worry, depression (see the related sections), night sweats, or the side effects of treatment or medicines.
What are second cancers?
Advances in cancer early detection and treatment mean that more and more people are surviving cancer today. Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing cancer again. If a cancer comes back after treatment it is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer. No matter what type of cancer you have had, it is still possible to get another (new) cancer, even after surviving the first.