Before Taking This Medicine
You should not receive BCG intravesical if you are allergic to BCG, or if you have:
a weak immune system from diseases such as AIDS, leukemia, or lymphoma
a fever, a bladder infection, or blood in your urine
if you are using steroids or receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatments or
if you have had a bladder biopsy, surgery, or catheter within the past 14 days.
Tell your doctor if you have any type of bacterial, fungal, or viral infection .
It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
You should not breastfeed while being treated with BCG.
Specific Foods To Avoid During Radiation Therapy
These food groups can be particularly dangerous to patients undergoing this type of cancer treatment:
Sodium/Salt This mineral increases your blood pressure and will cause your body to retain water which, in turn, will cause you to retain harmful toxins during your treatments. Look for low-sodium items if possible as one precaution to take during radiation therapy.
Raw Fish/Shellfish Any sort of raw fish or shellfish including clams, oysters, and sushi can be especially dangerous to eat during cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy sometimes kills healthy cells, reduces the strength of the immune system, and increases your susceptibility to diseases and infection. Raw fish and shellfish are often contaminated with viruses, parasites and bacteria, so its best to stay away from these items for the duration of your treatment.
Unpeeled Fruits and Vegetables At first glance, youd assume fruits and vegetables would be considered helpful during cancer treatment. While these items do contain a fair amount of nutrients and vitamins, theres some precautions to take during radiation therapy before raiding the fruit bowl.
Radiation therapy also creates toxins in your body that decrease digestive enzymes needed to digest food. Unpeeled raw fruits and veggies contain bacteria that could increase the risk of infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Theyre also foods that are high in fiber, which may be hard to digest during treatment.
Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You
Most patients experience little or no side effects during cancer treatment, while some experience any of a number of side effects. Side effects can occur the same day or after treatment.
Thats because while radiation therapy mostly affects cancerous cells, it can impact healthy cells as well. When good cells are affected, patients may experience various side effects.
The location of the body targeted by radiation therapy can cause different side effects including:
- weight loss
Throughout your treatment, listen to your body and adjust your diet according to what it is telling you. You may find only some foods taste good on a given day. Be flexible and make adjustments to the foods you eat during radiation treatment.
Your radiation diet may include switching to a bland diet or adding lots of flavorful foods to your meals. Tell your doctor if you begin to experience any side effects from your radiation therapy.
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Radiation Therapy: 11 Questions My Patients Ask
As a radiation oncologist at MD Anderson in The Woodlands, I get a lot of questions from my patients about how radiation therapy will affect them, what side effects they can expect and whether the treatment is safe.
Here are my answers to some of their frequently asked questions.
Do I need to bring someone with me for each treatment?
Unless you feel ill, you can typically drive yourself to treatment. In fact, many patients are able to work full-time during their treatment.
When will I start experiencing side effects?
Side effects depend on where you receive the radiation therapy, the dose given, whether you also receive chemotherapy and, if so, how much and what type. They usually begin by the second or third week of treatment and may last for several weeks after the final radiation treatment. In rare instances, there are serious side effects. Ask your doctor about the specific side effects that you may encounter and any follow-up questions about how to deal with them.
Will I lose my hair?
While chemotherapy causes hair loss throughout the body, thats not the case for radiation therapy. Hair loss is associated with the radiation beam entrance and exit areas. Hair loss can be seen with radiation to the brain, head and neck, as well as the lower pelvis. Hair loss caused by radiation therapy may be temporary or permanent. At lower doses, hair loss is often temporary at higher doses, hair loss can be permanent.
Am I radioactive?
Will I glow in the dark?
Deep Vein Thrombosis And Pulmonary Embolism
Thrombosis is a blood clot inside a blood vessel. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms inside a vein deep in the body, usually in a leg. DVT can be treated with drugs called anticoagulants. A blood clot may go away naturally, but a DVT requires anticoagulant treatment because it can become life threatening if the clot travels to the lungs and causes a pulmonary embolism . A PE is a blockage of 1 or more of the lungs major arteries.
The signs and symptoms of a blood clot might stem from the clot itself or a pulmonary embolism. Some people are not aware of a deep vein clot until they develop signs and symptoms the clot has moved to the lungs.
See your doctor right away if you have signs or symptoms of either condition. Both DVT and PE can cause serious, possibly life-threatening problems if not treated. Signs and symptoms of a DVT may include 1 or more of these:
Swelling of the leg or along a vein in the leg or arm
Pain or tenderness in the leg, which you may feel only when standing or walking
Pain or tenderness in the arm that limits movement
Increased warmth in the part of the leg or arm that is swollen or painful
Red or discolored skin on the leg or arms
Signs and symptoms of a PE may include 1 or more of these:
Unexplained shortness of breath
Pain in the chest, sides, or back with deep breathing
Coughing up blood
Fast breathing rate
Fast heart rate
Having a long-term catheter in a vein
To help prevent blood clots:
Oral Complications And Social Problems
The social problems related to oralcomplications can be the hardest problems for cancer patients to cope with. Oral complications affect eating and speaking and may make you unable or unwilling to take part in mealtimes or to dine out. Patients may become frustrated, withdrawn, or depressed, and they may avoid other people. Some drugs that are used to treat depression cannot be used because they can make oral complications worse. See the following PDQ summaries for more information:
Education, supportive care, and the treatment of symptoms are important for patients who have mouth problems that are related to cancer treatment. Patients are watched closely for pain, ability to cope, and response to treatment. Supportive care from health care providers and family can help the patient cope with cancer and its complications.
Ask Your Doctor Or Pharmacist About Ways To Feel Better If An Antibiotic Isnt Needed
For more information on common illnesses and how to feel better, visit Common Illnesses.
Antibiotics arent always the answer when youre sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when youre sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off an infection.
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Brain
People with brain tumors often get stereotactic radiosurgery if the cancer is in only one or a few sites in the brain. Side effects depend on where the radiation is aimed. Some side effects might show up quickly, but others might not show up until 1 to 2 years after treatment. Talk with your radiation oncologist about what to watch for and when to call your doctor.
If the cancer is in many areas, sometimes the whole brain is treated with radiation. The side effects of whole brain radiation therapy may not be noticeable until a few weeks after treatment begins.
Radiation to the brain can cause these short-term side effects:
- Trouble with memory and speech
Some of these side effects can happen because radiation has caused the brain to swell. Medicines are usually given to prevent brain swelling, but its important to let your cancer care team know about headaches or any other symptoms. Treatment can affect each person differently, and you may not have these particular side effects.
Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. You may also have an increased risk of having another tumor in the area, although this is not common.
Talk with your cancer care team about what to expect from your specific treatment plan.
What Foods Can I Eat During Radiation Therapy
Fortunately, there is plenty left on the menu even when taking all of those foods out of the equation. Nutrition is an integral part of cancer treatment as well as recovery, and good nutrition comes with a plethora of benefits:
- Feel Better An overall feeling of wellness due to providing your body with the nourishment it needs
- Maintain Strength and Energy Calories from wholesome nutrition will help keep your body running at its optimal level
- Maintain Weight and Nutrients Oftentimes, treatment will cause loss of appetite resulting in weight loss. A balanced diet can help mitigate those effects
- Lower Risk of Infection While your immune system will be weakened by radiation treatments, nutrients and vitamins found in whole foods can help get it back to a higher level
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Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown Of 2011
In 2011, when Japan suffered a nuclear reactor meltdown, people in the United States and Canada began taking potassium iodide and used up the entire supply. However, there was no exposure risk for any of the people in those locations.
All people, including adults, children, and infants, can take potassium iodide. It is especially recommended for infants and children since they are at higher risk for future thyroid cancer after a significant radiation event. It is also safe for pregnant people.
Infants and pregnant people should only take one dose of potassium iodide, because a one-time dose at the recommended level is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid. More medication offers no more protection, and too much potassium iodide can lead to problems with normal development.
Finding And Treating Oral Problems Before Cancer Treatment Begins Can Prevent Oral Complications Or Make Them Less Severe
Problems such as cavities, broken teeth, loose crowns or fillings, and gum disease can get worse or cause problems during cancer treatment. Bacteria live in the mouth and may cause an infection when the immune system is not working well or when white blood cell counts are low. If dental problems are treated before cancer treatments begin, there may be fewer or milder oralcomplications.
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Dermatologists Treat Skin Problems Caused By Cancer Treatment
As the skin, hair, and nail specialist, dermatologists are often called upon to treat reactions caused by cancer treatment. They are familiar with the many reactions that can occur during and years after cancer therapy.
If you develop a skin problem after cancer treatment, you dont have to live with the discomfort.
ImageImage used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 54:28-46.
ReferencesAmerican Academy of Dermatology. Skin conditions could hinder treatment in cancer patients, negatively impact quality of life. News release issued February 4, 2011. Last accessed August 24, 2018.
Greenwald E, Gorcey L, et al. Poster 2706: Importance of skin cancer screening after radiation therapy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 74 suppl 1:AB199. Commercial support: None identified.
Hymes SR, Strom EA, et al. Radiation dermatitis: Clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 54:28-46.
Veness M and Richards S. Radiotherapy. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:2127-37.
Why Cancer Patients Use Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has been used as a means of alternative cancer treatment since the 1930s however, its history is a bit more complicated than that.
While undergoing radiation therapy, patients may experience bouts of radiodermatitis. Radiodermatitis is a skin condition that comes as a result of radiation treatment, causing pain, discomfort, sleep disruptions and an overall decrease in quality of life. In severe cases, radiodermatitis can cause disruptions in treatment or reductions in the amount of radiation therapy a patient can undertake negatively impacting the therapys ability to appropriately treat the cancer. Radiodermatitis occurrence can be as high as 95 percent depending on the population receiving treatment, so it stands to reason that patients would be looking for a way to treat their discomfort.
Aloe vera is typically marketed to individuals undergoing radiation therapy, described as effective treatment for sunburn type reactions which are often referred to as radiation burns. Of course, the truth could not be farther than this claim. Lets take a deeper look.
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Purpose Of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the causes and treatment of oral complications of chemotherapy and head/neck radiation. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Chest
Radiation treatment to the chest may cause side effects such as:
- Sore throat
Radiation can also cause other problems in the heart or lungs.
Getting radiation to the middle portion of the chest can raise your risk of heart disease. This risk increases with higher radiation doses and larger treatment areas in this part of your body. Radiation can also cause hardening of the arteries , heart valve damage, or irregular heartbeats.
Radiation pneumonitis is inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by radiation treatment to the chest . It may occur about 3 to 6 months after getting radiation therapy. Its more likely if you have other lung diseases, like emphysema . Common symptoms of radiation pneumonitis include:
- Shortness of breath that usually gets worse with exercise
- Chest pain, which is often worse when taking in a deep breath
Sometimes there are no symptoms, and radiation pneumonitis is found on a chest x-ray.
Symptoms often go away on their own, but if treatment is needed, it is based on trying to decrease the inflammation. Steroids, like prednisone, are usually used. With treatment, most people recover without any lasting effects. But if it persists, it can lead to pulmonary fibrosis . When this happens, the lungs can no longer fully inflate and take in air.
Be sure you understand what to look for, and tell your cancer care team if you notice any of these side effects.
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Food To Eat During Radiation Treatment
Including these 5 components in a healthy diet during radiation therapy is a recipe for a swift recovery with fewer side effects. Radiation therapy can change how a patients body accepts certain foods and uses nutrients. Each radiation therapy patient reacts differently to treatment but here are the basic guidelines to develop a diet while undergoing radiation therapy for cancer:
Permission To Use This Summary
PDQ is a registered trademark. The content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text. It cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless the whole summary is shown and it is updated regularly. However, a user would be allowed to write a sentence such as NCIs PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks in the following way: .
The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:
PDQ® Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. PDQ Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated < MM/DD/YYYY> . Available at: . Accessed < MM/DD/YYYY> .
Images in this summary are used with permission of the author, artist, and/or publisher for use in the PDQ summaries only. If you want to use an image from a PDQ summary and you are not using the whole summary, you must get permission from the owner. It cannot be given by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the images in this summary, along with many other images related to cancer can be found in Visuals Online. Visuals Online is a collection of more than 3,000 scientific images.
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More Things To Avoid During Your Radiation Therapy Foods
Its important to note before diving into this section Only your doctor should advise/prescribe a specific diet for each patient based on their individual situation. Consult your doctor for any and all dietary questions.
This is a common topic and a familiar question asked by those undergoing radiation therapy:
What foods should I avoid during radiation?
Food can go a long way towards easing side effects of radiation therapy, as well as aiding in the fight against cancer itself. And while there are plenty of foods that WILL help your body throughout your treatment, there a plenty you should steer clear of as well.