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Nursing Tips for Radiation Therapy

Always follow the recommendations of your Doctors and Nurses during treatment. These are a few tips you can use to help you during your Radiation Therapy.

Goal of therapy

The goal of Radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells using the least amount of radiation possible. Radiation therapy delivers high doses of radiation to targeted areas in order to destroy the cancer cells. This prevents them from reproducing and inhibits their ability to spread.

Your treatment team composed of Radiation Oncologist, Dosimetrist, Radiation Therapist, Physicist, Nutritionist and Nurses specializing in Radiation Oncology. The team will develop an individual treatment plan designed for you. Family support is important and you may have a social worker or psychologist to help support you and your family during treatment.

One of the Challenges patient encounters during radiation therapy are skin reactions. The goals of Care in managing skin reactions are, maintain skin integrity and hydration of the skin, reduction of pain and discomfort, protection from trauma and preventing infection.

When radiation passes through the skin the skin cells may become damaged. During repeated treatment skin cells do not have enough time to repair and regenerate. General skincare during therapy include:

Continue bathing and washing as normal avoiding use of perfumed soaps and toiletries.

Wash using your hands only. Washcloths may be too rough. After bathing, gently pat your skin dry. Make sure to dry any folds of skin.
wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid exposure of skin to the sun until it is healed as radiated areas are more sensitive to the sun and at an increased risk of damage.
Sunscreens should be used in addition to clothing to shade and protect the skin.
Avoid swimming in chlorinated water as the chlorine can have a drying effect on the skin. Do not wet shave or use a hair removal product.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association Recommends to apply a moisturizer to your skin daily but don’t apply it to a wound and always check with your radiation treatment team and apply the moisturizer as directed.
Patients should avoid applying them within 2 hours before treatment because they may exacerbate skin irritation caused by radiation.
Report any skin irritation or changes to your radiation care nurse.

Ultimate Vitality's Radiation Burn Cream is a natural organic radiation burn cream created by an Oncology nurse. Designed with calendula and natural herbs to support and protect your skin during and after radiation treatment.

Breast Radiation Tips

During treatment, your skin and hair may change. It may turn red, pink, tanned or look like a sunburn. The skin may become sensitive to touch and painful. It may also become itchy. Avoid scratching the skin as it may promote infection. Moisturizing your skin can help reduce the dry itchy skin. If you develop a rash, blisters or open wound report it to your doctor or nurse.

  • Wear a breathable cotton bra or camisole. Avoid bras with underwires nylon or lace.
  • You may use deodorant buy avoid shaving the armpits as it may cause irritation.
  • Don’t use makeup, perfumes, powders, or aftershave in the area being treated.
  • Don’t put tape on your treated skin
  • Don’t use alcohol or alcohol pads on your skin during treatment.
  • Avoid exposing your skin to extremes in hot and cold temperature including ice packs, hot water bottles, and hot tubs
  • Keep your skin clean. Use gentle a gentle soap such as Cetaphil or baby soap. Avoid scrubbing your skin, be gentle with at and pat it dry with a soft towel
  • Moisturize your skin often. This can help minimize skin reactions. When choosing a skin moisturizer avoid ones that have fragrances or Lanolin. Natural herbal formula with Calendula may be recommended.
  • If you are using a moisturizer apply it twice per day

Managing Fatigue

Many patients develop fatigue after 2-3 weeks of treatment. You may have difficulty concentrating, feel tired or slowed down. This will gradually diminish after your complete treatment but it may last for several months after treatment. Below are some general tips for managing fatigue.

Work if possible but if fatigue is causing issues to consider working less to increase your energy

Prioritize activities that are most important during times of the day that you have the most energy

Get plenty of rest and consider short naps during the day to help with energy. Ask your doctor or nurse about exercise, yoga, and activity this may help you sleep better at night. Some people have more energy after exercise.

Ask family and friends to help with activities to help decrease your stress and allow periods of rest

Other symptoms, such as pain, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, or feeling depressed or anxious, can increase your fatigue. Ask your radiation oncologist or nurse for help with any other symptoms you may have.

Emotional Health

Going through cancer treatment is a very stressful experience. You may worry about how your family relationships may change, about the effect of cancer treatment on your body, or if you will continue to be sexually attractive. You may worry that cancer will come back. We’re here to support you.

Consider joining a support group. You can join Ultimate Vitality’s Facebook group or other online or local groups

Consider gentle yoga or mindfulness practices

Exercise: You may find that light exercise helps with stress. Talk to your doctor or nurse regarding the type of exercise you can do.

Always follow the recommendations of your Doctors and Nurses during treatment. These are a few tips you can use to help you during your Radiation Therapy.

More Tips for managing skin during treatment

https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation/skin/care

Can fasting or calorie restriction help my body fight cancer?  Could it also help cancer treatment be more effective?

https://osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/integrative-medicine-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/faq/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction