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What are the side effects of radiation therapy?

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Quick Answer

The side effects of radiation therapy include nausea, fatigue, lung problems, heart problems, hair loss, skin problems, memory loss, infertility, fibrosis and damage to the bowels. Side effects of radiation therapy are usually separated into two categories: early and late side effects, as stated by WebMD. Some side effects may occur depending on the location of the treatment.

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What are the side effects of radiation therapy?
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Full Answer

Early side effects usually occur during treatment and may include fatigue and nausea. Late side effects tend to appear months or even years after the completion of treatments, as stated by the National Cancer Institute. Most acute side effects usually clear up after completion of treatments, but others can be permanent, such as salivary gland damage.

The side effects that a person may experience depends on several factors, including the health condition of a patient, current medication, total dose given and the location of the body being treated. Fatigue is a common side effect, and it can inhibit a person from completing normal activities.

Second cancers can develop after treatment, especially in girls who receive radiation therapy on areas around the breasts, as stated by the National Cancer Institute. This risk tends to be higher for a lifetime in children and adolescents who have undergone radiation therapy treatments.

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