Healthy Living

What Is Recovery Like for Radiation Therapy?

What Is Recovery Like for Radiation Therapy?

Key Takeaways

  • When you have undergone radiation therapy, it is perfectly normal to feel pain.
  • When you have undergone radiation therapy, you will most likely find that your need to consume food will decrease.
  • The progress of the cancerous cells might require you to have a higher dosage of radiation than would be administered in normal situations.

After undergoing radiation therapy, the patient will be instructed on what to do, the appointments to keep, and everything they will need to know to make a full and safe recovery. Recovery usually depends on a lot of factors, but the following are some of the important ones:

  • The type of cancer that you had treated.
  • The amount of radiation that you received.
  • The type of radiation (internal or external).
  • The extent of the cancer at the time of treatment.
  • The body’s responses to the radiotherapy.
  • The general health of the patient.

The internal type of radiation, for example, will not have the same restrictions that the external one has. When you have had external radiation therapy, you will be cautioned against being in contact with other people.

The progress of the cancerous cells might require you to have a higher dosage of radiation than would be administered in normal situations, requiring you to have intensive care for proper recovery.

The recovery process includes the following facets:

  • The type and place of radiation (external or internal)
  • Pain management
  • Follow ups
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Diet and health changes

So, in this article, you will get to know what happens when you have finished therapy and you have been released to go home.

1. The Type and Place of Treatment

This part refers to the treatment being either external or internal radiation. The following are some of the types of treatment that you can expect to receive.

  • External Radiation Therapy: This treatment is directed on the outside of the body. When people hear the concept of external radiation, there is a tendency to assume that the individual undergoing such treatment becomes a walking Chernobyl. This is highly incorrect. It is perfectly safe to be in contact with an individual undergoing external radiation therapy.
  • Systemic Radiation Therapy: This form of therapy needs more care, and the patient will most likely stay in the hospital for some time after the treatment is done.
  • Brachytherapy: This form of therapy has to do with the insertion of radiation implants in the area of treatment. The removal of this implant will leave the patient feeling painful and sensitive for some time. However, they have to be careful when they are released to go home.     

2. Follow Up

This involves going back to the doctor for appointments which shall be set according to the needs of the patient, the radiation amount they received, and which type of cancer they had. The general health of the patient will also be monitored to ensure that he/she does not have any adverse side-effects that could be harmful. When you go for the follow up, the doctor will order that x-rays be done and any recurring issues be taken care of. There will also be cancer treatment of anything that was left uncovered. Here is how it works:

  • Rehabilitation and counseling is also included in this follow up package. Palliative care is also another aspect of follow-ups. This deals with the prevention of certain side effects and how to deal with the ones that are already there.
  • Because all patients are different, and their general health and types of cancer differ, you will find that every method of caring for the patient will be customized.  

Follow ups are an important part of the road to recovery and every patient should be aware of this.

3. Pain Management

When you have undergone radiation therapy, it is perfectly normal to feel pain. For example, this may be caused because the skin becomes tender and very sensitive to heat and other factors of the natural environment.

To put it in perspective, we can say that you will experience discomfort and not pains that will make you cry out. This is a result of the effects of being exposed to radiation. The body will have to take time and proper care to adjust to the natural environment specifications. However, if the discomfort turns into pain, you will have to talk to the doctor and ask what should be done. In the hospital, they have a way of grading pain severity and you will be required to describe it on a scale of 0-10, with ten being unbearable pain and 0 being no pain.

When you are worried and stressed, the discomfort will worsen. To manage this, you may try acupuncture, a good environment, or hypnosis.

4. Lifestyle Changes

Because radiation therapy comes with fatigue as an added bonus that you simply can’t avoid, returning to work or performing the activities that you used to perform is hard. However, this will depend on how you are feeling.

When you are feeling better and stronger, you can resume work. However, you will need to find lighter work if your current occupation requires you to perform heavy lifting or strenuous activities.

5. Diet and Health Changes

When you have undergone radiation therapy, you will most likely find that your need to consume food will decrease. Loss of appetite is a common occurrence, and you will need the assistance of your doctor to help you with this issue. Loss of appetite is often caused by the occasional appearance of sores and digestive problems.

It is very important to include the healthiest of foods in your diet. By eating healthy, you can regain your strength and improve your overall quality of life. A healthy diet can also help with the task of withstanding the long-term effects of the therapy. Radiation therapy will not be easy if you are in a weakened state. This is why it is so important to build your strength by following a healthy diet.

Bottom Line

When you have undergone the therapy sessions, you will have to make sure that you make all the appointments and that you take the instructions seriously. These instructions will help you identify potential problems and stop them before they occur.

Radiation therapy is good for you if you are a cancer patient but, like all treatments, it has its side-effects. You will have to deal with these side-effects properly to make sure that you do not suffer the consequences.