You may have diarrhea. Diarrhea means you have more bowel movements than usual and they may be watery. You may also have gas and cramping. Please let your nurse or doctor know if diarrhea occurs. There are medicines available to help control this problem. If diarrhea becomes a problem, you may need to change what you eat to slow down the movement of your bowels. A low residue diet may be helpful. You can get a copy of this diet from your nurse.
If the diarrhea is prolonged, do not eat these foods: • fresh fruit (especially citrus fruit and juices such as orange, grapefruit and tomato) • raw vegetables • fried foods • foods high in fat • nuts, seeds or coconut • popcorn • spicy foods
Sometimes patients notice rectal discomfort. It might include itching, burning or pain during a bowel movement. If you have one of these symptoms, let your nurse or doctor know. There are medications that help these symptoms.
Do not put Vaseline on the radiated area(s). Your nurse will discuss skin care with you.
The type of treatment you are receiving can cause some discomfort to the bladder. This discomfort is temporary and should subside within two to three weeks after your treatment ends. You may notice a need to go to the bathroom more often, have a burning feeling when you urinate or a feeling of pressure and urgency. Please let your nurse or doctor know if you have these symptoms.
The following guidelines can help with these symptoms:
Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day to reduce the risk of infection. Include cranberry juice unless contraindicated. These drinks are an effective way to increase urine acidity and decrease your chances of having an infection. (If you also have diarrhea, avoid citrus juices).
If you have discomfort when you urinate or difficulty starting your stream, try sitting in warm water before or during urination to help this problem. Some foods may cause irritation to your bladder. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, colas or chocolate. Avoid alcoholic drinks. Avoid foods that contain spices such as curry and pepper. Don't smoke or use any tobacco products.
If you develop any of the following symptoms, notify your nurse or doctor immediately: • blood or pus in your urine • back pain • fever • unable to urinate for eight hours
You may notice that you feel unusually tired during the last weeks of your treatment. This is an expected side effect. We recommend you pace your activities and include frequent rest periods to avoid becoming overtired.
You may experience changes in sexual desire or performance as a result of your treatment. These changes tend to vary greatly from one person to another. We encourage you to talk to your nurse or doctor about your sexuality concerns.
For more information see the "Sexuality and Cancer" pamphlet.
For more information see "Caring for Yourself at Home While Receiving Radiation Therapy Skin Care."