Side Effects of Radiation

The Radiation Oncology Department at Beaumont features high-tech equipment that is minimally invasive and helps preserve quality of life. For example, precision targeting of cancerous tissue reduces treatment-related side effects. Some side effects last only during treatment, but others may be longer-term.

Short-term side effects of radiation include

  • skin reactions - tanning and redness similar to a sunburn can occur gradually during treatment, peaking after treatment ends. This may lead to dry or moist breakdown of skin.
  • sore throat and/or mouth
  • difficulty and/or pain with swallowing
  • hoarseness
  • soreness or swelling in the neck
  • weight loss or dehydration
  • yeast infection in the mouth or throat
  • lower blood counts, particularly if radiation and chemotherapy are given together
  • nausea or vomiting, usually related to chemotherapy or other medications rather than radiation
  • tiredness/fatigue
  • dry mouth (xerostomia) - medications may be given to improve

Long-term side effects of radiation can include

  • persistent dry mouth/throat
  • swallowing dysfunction
  • increased risk of cavities or complications after dental procedures
  • stiffness or tanning of irradiated tissues
  • spinal cord or nerve damage - very rare
  • low thyroid

The side effects may depend on the type of treatment you are going to receive. Learn more about potential side effects for:

Radiation oncologists at Beaumont use very precise equipment to target radiation only at the tumor and thus limit side effects as much as possible. In addition, many side effects can be minimized or managed with medications.

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