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  • Management of side effects image
  • Proton therapy itself is painless. Patients who are treated with proton therapy also experience fewer side effects than patients treated with conventional radiotherapy. However, patients may experience side effects such as hair loss, mouth changes, skin changes, throat changes, diarrhea, urinary and bladder changes, and nausea/vomiting.
    Skin changes
  • Skin changes can happen on any part of the body exposed to radiation. Skin changes may start a few weeks after starting radiation therapy. Many skin changes disappear within a few weeks of completing treatment. Your treated skin may look darker and blotchy. It may also feel dry or thicker than before treatment. The treated skin may also burn quickly and be more sensitive to the sun.
    Ways to manage skin changes
  • Be gentle and do not rub, scrub, or scratch the treated area.
  • Use the creams prescribed by your doctor.
  • When taking a shower or bath, use a mild soap that does not have any fragrance or deodorant.
  • Dry yourself with a soft towel by patting, not rubbing, your skin. Be careful not to wash off the ink marks that are needed for radiotherapy.
  • Wear clothes and use bed sheets that are soft, such as those made from cotton.
  • Do not wear clothes that are tight and do not breathe, such as girdles and pantyhose.
  • Protect your skin from the sun every day. Wear a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants when you are outside.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse if you can shave the treated area. If you can shave, use an electric razor and do not use pre-shave lotion
  • If radiotherapy is applied to the rectal area, you are likely to have skin problems. Clean yourself with a baby wipe or a squirt of water from a spray bottle. Ask your nurse about sitz baths (a warm-water bath taken in a sitting position that covers only the hips and buttocks.)
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