What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer?


Quick Answer

Common side effects of radiation therapy for lung cancer include fatigue, skin irritation, esophagitis, lung inflammation, temporary appetite and hair loss in the chest area, as confirmed by RadiologyInfo.org. Many of these side effects are temporary.

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What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer?
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Full Answer

Fatigue commonly effects patients who are beginning radiation therapy on the lungs, often becoming worse as treatment progresses, as stated by RadiologyInfo.org. Although patients may find completing daily activities difficult, the doctor may recommend them to stay active, while getting sufficient rest. The fatigue normally dissipates after one to two months of treatment. The majority of patients develop a rash after the first several weeks of radiation treatment, which can become severe during long-term treatment. Patients may notice sensitive, red, dry or itchy skin in the affected area, and they can alleviate the discomfort by washing the rash with warm, soapy water and avoiding irritating skin products.

Three to six months after finishing radiation therapy, patients may develop radiation pneumonitis, according to RadiologyInfo.org. Symptoms may include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, and the condition normally resolves on its own within several weeks. Esophagitis is a very common side effect of lung radiation and tends to be more severe in patients who also receive chemotherapy. This inflammation of the esophagus makes eating difficult, but it generally resolves within three weeks.

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