Cancer Caused by Radiation Therapy

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 18 May 2022

Cancer Caused by Radiation Therapy

Radiation treatment may be recommended by your doctor if you have cancer. To destroy cancer cells, high-energy beams are used.

These high doses of radiation can cause a cancer called second primary cancer, which is extremely rare. It usually takes years for it to manifest after treatment. Here's what you need to hear about it.

How Radiation Therapy Can Cause Cancer

The potency of this treatment has the potential to damage your DNA as well as destroy healthy cells and tissues. This has the potential to cause cancer. However, since this is an uncommon occurrence, the many advantages of radiation therapy generally outweigh the risk.

How to Manage

If you're concerned about getting another form of cancer after radiation therapy, there are a few steps that can be taken to alleviate your fears. They are as follows:

Talk to your doctor: Everyone is affected differently by cancer. Inquire about the types of cancer you might be a threat for based on your previous cancer and radiation therapy.

Schedule checkups: This will assist the doctor in checking for any symptoms from your original cancer as well as detecting signs of new cancers. Inquire on how often you should visit for a checkup.

Watch for new symptoms: If you have any new symptoms or potential cancer-related side effects, contact your doctor right away.

Other Side Effects

Early side effects of radiation therapy will occur shortly after treatment. These normally don't last long and are minor and easily treatable. They are as follows:

Fatigue: Radiation will leave you exhausted both mentally and physically. After a few weeks of therapy, this normally occurs. This is due to the damage to your healthy cells. As you progress through therapy, your sleepiness can become more serious.

Skin changes: In the region where you receive radiation therapy, the skin can appear red, tanned, or irritated. Later on, it can become itchy, flaky, and dry as a result of this. It should go away after your treatment is over, but your skin may remain more sensitive or discoloured in that region in some cases.

Low blood counts: Your blood count levels can change, but this is uncommon. These are the cells that aid in the prevention of bleeding and the treatment of infections. If this happens, your doctor can recommend stopping treatment to allow your levels to return to normal.

Hair loss: Aftercare, you can find that your hair is falling out or that it is becoming thinner. This could occur in the region where you receive treatment, such as your brain. After the injection, the hair will regrow.

You can experience other late side effects, such as second primary cancer, that take months or years to manifest. These adjustments are determined by the location of the radiation and the dose administered by your doctor. They'll carefully schedule the procedure to prevent serious long-term radiation side effects.

Sources

Referenced on 1/5/2021

  1. American Cancer Society: “Radiation Therapy Side Effects.”
  2. National Cancer Institute: “Late Side Effects of Cancer Treatment,” “Radiation.”
  3. Mayo Clinic: “Radiation therapy.”
  4. National Cancer Institute: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation#:~:text=High%2Denergy%20radiation%2C%20such%20as,made%2C%20tested%2C%20or%20used.
  5. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/second-cancers-in-adults/treatment-risks.html
  6. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cancer-caused-by-radiation-therapy

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