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What are side effects of brain radiation?

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Quick Answer

Side effects of radiation treatments for brain cancer include headaches, exhaustion, queasiness and vomiting, explains the American Cancer Society. Specific reactions vary depending on the area of the brain that is treated and tend to become most severe within one to two years following initial treatment.

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Additional side effects of brain cancer radiation treatments include swelling of the brain and hair loss, explains University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Brain swelling symptoms may be treated with steroid medications. Individuals typically begin to lose their hair after the first two weeks of treatment. In many cases, hair grows back within two to three months following the conclusion of treatment; however, individuals who are treated with higher doses of radiation may experience permanent hair loss.

One of the most severe side effects of brain radiation treatments is damaged brain tissue, as this can lead to brain damage, explains Texas Oncology. Neurological side effects can develop immediately following treatment or may not present for months or years, and they include memory loss, personality changes and brain impairment. These symptoms often mimic brain tumor symptoms, so further testing may be required to rule out or diagnose new brain tumors. Brain tumor radiation treatments also put individuals at risk for developing a second form of cancer in the head and neck area.

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