Many women feel mildly to moderately tired during radiation
therapy, especially as treatments progress. Treatment for cancer
can be stressful and the daily trips to the hospital take a lot of
energy. Try to rest as much as you can and plan your activities at
levels that are comfortable for you. Don't push yourself. It is
especially important to eat properly while you are having radiation
treatments, because your body needs wholesome food to restore its
strength and to repair injured cells. It's also important for you
to maintain your weight. Even if you are overweight, do not try to
lose weight until you have finished all of your treatments.
The skin around the treated area may begin to look reddened,
irritated, tanned, or sunburned. In some women the skin becomes
quite dry; in others it becomes very moist, especially under the
breast fold. These side effects are most likely to occur toward the
end of treatment.
Be gentle with your skin. Try not to irritate it. Don't use
perfumed or deodorant soaps, ointments, or anything besides
lukewarm water and plain soap (such as Ivory) on your breast. Some
women wear soft cotton bras, without wiring, or go braless whenever
possible. Some like to wear a soft T-shirt or other loose
Your doctor and nurse will be watching you closely as treatment
progresses. Be sure to mention any side effects you may have.
You may notice other changes in your breast due to the radiation
therapy and changes may continue for 6 to 12 months after
treatment. As the redness goes away, you will notice a slight
darkening of the skin-as when a sunburn fades to a suntan. The
pores may be enlarged and more noticeable.
You may have some change in skin sensitivity-some women report
increased sensation, others have decreased feeling. The skin and
the fatty tissue of the breast may feel thicker, and you may notice
that your breast is firmer than it was before your radiation
treatment. Some older women have said that their breast feels and
looks as it did when they were in their twenties. Others report a
change in the size of the treated breast-it may become larger
because of fluid buildup or smaller because of development of
fibrous tissue, but many women have little or no change at all.
After 10 to 12 months, you should notice few additional changes
caused by the radiation therapy. If changes in size, shape,
appearance, or texture occur after this time, report them to your
doctor at once.