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About Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a treatment using high energy rays (x-rays) to kill cancer cells. The radiation may come from the outside of the body (external radiation) or from radioactive materials placed directly in or near the tumor (internal radiation from implants). A doctor who specializes in this type of radiation treatment is called a Radiation Oncologist. External radiation is usually given 5 days a week for 5-6 weeks. A low dose of chemotherapy is often given with radiation to sensitize the cancer cell to the radiation. This make the radiation more effective.

Complications and side effects associated with radiation include fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The skin may become red, dry, tender, and itchy. There may be a darkening of the skin in the treated area. This area should be protected from sunlight. Bleeding from the bladder or rectum, vaginal scarring, intestinal obstruction or leaks (fistulas) from the urinary or intestinal tracts may also develop. Radiation to the vaginal areas can also cause vaginal dryness and scarring which may cause difficulty with intercourse.

Please let your doctor know if these problems occur as some of these may be corrected with the proper treatment.