What Are Some Long-Term Side Effects of Radiation Therapy?


Quick Answer

Damage to the body and increased risk of another cancer are potential long-term effects of radiation therapy, notes the American Cancer Society. People making decisions about receiving the therapy should talk to their doctors about these long-term risks.

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Full Answer

Radiation used to destroy cancer cells may also damage normal cells, states the American Cancer Society. Radiation to the chest may lead to damage of the heart or lungs in the long-term, while radiation therapy aimed at the stomach may cause bladder, bowel, fertility or sexual problems. While the risk is small, people who receive radiation therapy may also have an increased risk of another cancer in the long-term, due to radiation damage to healthy tissue.

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