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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.
    Hair loss
  • Hair loss during radiotherapy only occurs at the part of your body being treated, unlike chemotherapy, which can cause hair loss all over your body. For example, you may lose some or all of the hair on your head following radiotherapy to your brain. After radiotherapy of your hip, you may lose pubic hair but not hair on your head. You may start losing hair in the treated area 2-3 weeks after your first radiation therapy session. Your hair may grow back 3-6 months after completing treatment. Once your hair starts to grow back, it may not look or feel the way it did before.
    Ways to manage hair loss on your head
    Before hair loss
  • Be gentle when you wash your hair.
  • Do not use curling irons, electric hair dryers, curlers, hair bands, clips, or hair sprays.
  • Do not use products that are harsh on your hair, such as hair colors, perms, gels, mousse, oil, grease, or pomade.
    After hair loss
  • Protect your scalp. Your scalp may feel tender after hair loss.
  • Cover your head with a hat, turban, or scarf when you are outside.
  • Try not to avoid very cold or very hot environments by staying away from the direct sun, sun lamps, or very cold air.
  • Because your hair helps keep you warm, you may feel colder once you lose it. You can stay warmer by wearing a hat, turban, scarf, or wig.
    Nausea and vomiting
  • Nausea and vomiting can occur after radiotherapy of the stomach, small intestine, colon, or parts of the brain. The risk of nausea and vomiting depends on the radiation dose, how much of your body is in the treatment area, and whether you are also having chemotherapy. Nausea and vomiting may occur from 30 minutes to many hours after each radiotherapy session. You are likely to feel better on the days that you do not have radiotherapy
    Ways to manage nausea and vomiting
  • Consume bland, easy-to-digest foods and drinks that do not upset your stomach.
  • You may feel less nausea if you relax before each radiation therapy treatment. You can do this by spending time doing activities you enjoy, such as reading a book, listening to music, or other hobbies.
  • Learn the best time for you to eat and drink.
    • You might want a snack of crackers and apple juice 1-2 hours before each session
    • You might feel better if you are treated on an empty stomach, which means not eating 2-3 hours before treatment
  • Eat small meals and snacks.
  • Your physician may recommend a special diet or prescribe drugs that can help to prevent nausea, which you should take 1 hour before each treatment session.
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