Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is the use of various forms of radiation to safely and effectively treat cancer and other diseases. Radiation oncologists may use radiation to cure cancer, to control the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Radiation therapy works by damaging cells. Normal cells are able to repair themselves, whereas cancer cells cannot. New techniques also allow doctors to better target the radiation to protect healthy cells.
Some patients are concerned about the safety of radiation therapy. Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years. In that time, many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective.
Radiation therapy is usually well tolerated and many patients are able to continue their normal routines. However, some patients may eventually develop painful side effects. Be sure to talk to a member of your radiation oncology treatment team about any problems or discomfort you may have. Many of the side effects of radiation therapy are only in the area being treated.
Get plenty of rest.
Follow doctor’s orders.
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
Treat the skin that is exposed to radiation with extra care.
Seek out support.
Foods to avoid or reduce during radiation therapy include sodium (salt), added sugars, solid (saturated) fats, and an excess of alcohol. Some salt is needed in all diets. Your doctor or dietitian can recommend how much salt you should consume based on your medical history.