PATIENT INFORMATION ON RADIATION THERAPY TO THE BREAST
Radiation therapy to the breast is usually very well tolerated with minimal skin changes. The following are some guide lines to minimize the chance of side effects due to the radiation.
- Two to three times a day apply Pure Aloe Vera Gel to the entire treatment area (the therapist will define this for you). Begin this after your first treatment.
- You may use pure gel direct from the plant (cut off the amount required and wrap the remainder in Saran Wrap and keep in the refrigerator), Fruit of the Earth or Banana Boat, or pure gel available from health food stores.
- After allowing the Aloe Vera to dry follow with a moisturizer. We recommend: Eucerin Lotion, Curel, or Moisturel. If you have other favorites, before using them, please check with the physician or nurse.
- You may use either the Aloe Vera gel or the moisturizer as often as you wish for comfort, i.e.: dry itchy skin within the treatment field.
- Bathe or shower daily with warm water. Do not use hot water. The soaps we recommend are Ivory, Basis, Eucerin, or Dove.
- If lines have been placed on your skin by our technicians, please do not wash them off without first checking with the technician. When using soap, avoid scrubbing the lines.
- Do not rub the treatment area with a washcloth or towel. Pat the area dry.
- Use cornstarch to absorb moisture. Do not use Talcum powder.
- For dry itchy skin within the treatment field use the moisturizers mentioned above.
- Do not expose the treated skin to direct sunlight such as sunbathing.
- Do not use a heating pad on the treated skin.
- Do not swim or sit in a hot tub during your course of treatment. Your marks will fade and the chemicals in the water may irritate your skin. If you care to swim, rinse well afterwards and follow with a recommended moisturizer as the chemicals in the water may irritate your skin.
- Should you notice that your skin is becoming reddened, please notify our nurse. Skin reactions usually appear about the third week of treatment.
Your blood count will be obtained on a routine basis by our oncology nurse.
Eat a well balanced diet. Do not try to lose weight during treatment. Your weight will be monitored weekly.
Emotional support is really important at this time. If you have questions about physical closeness or sexual relations, please speak to the physician or our oncology nurse.
There is a possibility that you may develop fatigue during the course of treatment. The severity and duration will vary according to your past medical history and present treatment area. Increasing your rest time will help manage this side effect. This fatigue will clear shortly following the completion of the radiation therapy.
You will meet with one of the doctors every week for review of your case and monitoring of your progress. Your questions may be answered at these times. Of course, if a more pressing question arises during the treatment, please ask to speak with the nurse or physician. They always stand ready to answer your questions.