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How do you minimize the side effects of radiation therapy?

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One valuable way to minimize unpleasant side effects of radiation therapy is to take drugs that may prevent the side effects before therapy begins, according to the American Cancer Society. Doctors prescribe radioprotective drugs to protect the tissue that receives the radiation. Other ways to prevent and manage side effects are to stay well-rested, eat a healthy diet, inform the medical team in advance about any regularly taken medication or supplements, and take care the skin at the radiation site.

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Some people experience side effects from radiation therapy, but others do not, the American Cancer Society reports. Side effects can be both physical and emotional. Patients may experience fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite and skin changes. Some patients may feel depressed or angry during or after radiation treatments, and doctors suggest that these patients participate in a support group with others who are undergoing cancer or radiation.

Radiation's side effects can appear during therapy or soon thereafter, and these side effects are usually temporary, says the American Cancer Society. Doctors can modify the therapy to reduce some side effects during treatment, so it is always important to inform the medical team. Some side effects may not appear until long after the treatment, and these side effects are often permanent.

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