Radiation therapy is a common treatment option for mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. While radiation therapy can be effective in treating mesothelioma, it can also cause side effects. In this answer, we will discuss the common side effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma.
Fatigue: Fatigue is one of the most common side effects of radiation therapy for mesothelioma. Patients may feel tired and weak, and may need to rest more frequently during the day. This can affect their ability to carry out daily activities and work.
Skin changes: Radiation therapy can cause changes to the skin, including redness, dryness, itching, and peeling. The skin may also become more sensitive to sunlight, and patients may need to avoid sun exposure or use sunscreen.
Nausea and vomiting: Some patients may experience nausea and vomiting during radiation therapy. This can be caused by the radiation itself or by other factors, such as anxiety or medication.
Loss of appetite: Radiation therapy can cause a loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Patients may need to adjust their diet to ensure they are getting enough nutrients.
Hair loss: Radiation therapy can cause hair loss in the area being treated. For example, if the chest is being treated, patients may lose hair on their chest. Hair loss is usually temporary and will grow back after treatment is completed.
Respiratory problems: Radiation therapy for mesothelioma can cause respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. This is more likely to occur if the radiation is being delivered to the chest area.
Swelling: Radiation therapy can cause swelling in the area being treated. For example, if the abdomen is being treated, patients may experience swelling in their abdomen. This is usually temporary and will go away once treatment is completed.
Lymphedema: Radiation therapy can also cause lymphedema, which is a condition where fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling. This is more likely to occur if the radiation is being delivered to the lymph nodes.
Radiation pneumonitis: Radiation therapy to the chest area can cause radiation pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. This is a serious side effect and requires immediate medical attention.
Cardiovascular problems: Radiation therapy to the chest area can also cause cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease and heart failure. This is more likely to occur in patients who already have cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or a history of heart disease.
It is important to note that not all patients will experience these side effects, and the severity of the side effects can vary from person to person. Additionally, some side effects may not appear until weeks or months after treatment has ended. Patients should discuss any concerns they have about radiation therapy and its potential side effects with their doctor.