Are there long-term dangers to the radiation I'm receiving?


Q: Are there long-term dangers to the radiation I'm receiving? 

A: Radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery all may cause problems that don't show up until months or years after treatment ends. These are called late side effects. For example, when the neck is part of the radiation field, very low levels of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) may develop later on. Other late side effects from radiation include heart or lung disease, infertility, and intestinal problems.

Some cancer patients experience one or more late side effects; others have none. Sometimes, the side effects you had during therapy, such as skin irritation or fatigue, may continue well beyond treatment's end. These are called long-term side effects and usually lessen with time.
--Kathy Newman, RN, BSN

If you've lost weight from treatment, try these tips for healthy high calorie eating.

This content was last reviewed August 15, 2010 by Dr. Reshma L. Mahtani.
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