Patients experience a variety of early and late side effects after radiation treatment. Early side effects include hair loss and fatigue, while late side effects include permanent heart or lung problems, notes WebMD.
Oftentimes, patients experience nausea right after radiation treatment, explains WebMD. Doctors are able to prescribe medications to help alleviate nausea and vomiting. Some patients develop skin problems at the site receiving the treatment. Patients can also expect to have a change in appetite or other eating problems, including digestive issues. To combat this problem, WebMD advises patients to eat several small meals throughout the day while maintaining a healthy diet that includes a variation of foods and snacks. Radiation treatment can also cause problems within a person's mouth.
Dry mouth, sores in the mouth and jaw stiffness are all side effects of radiation treatment that must be relayed to a person's cancer team. Patients who receive radiation treatment to the abdomen or stomach may suffer from diarrhea, but avoiding high-fiber foods may help prevent this side effect, states WebMD. Late side effects take months to several years to develop. Scarring caused by radiation treatment can work its way into a patient's lungs, causing permanent damage. In addition, radiation treatment can cause another type of cancer after the first cancer is cured.