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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.
  • Radiotherapy of the pelvis, stomach, or abdomen can cause diarrhea. People get diarrhea because the radiation harms the healthy cells in the large or small bowel. These areas are very sensitive to the amount of radiation needed to treat cancer.
    Ways to manage diarrhea
  • Drink 8-12 cups of clear liquid per day.
  • Eat smaller meals and snacks. For example, eat 5 or 6 small meals and snacks rather than 3 large meals.
  • Eat foods that are easy on the stomach, particularly foods that are low in fiber, fat, and lactose.
  • Avoid:
    • Milk and dairy foods, such as ice cream, sour cream, and cheese
    • Spicy foods, such as hot sauce, salsa, chili, and curry dishes
    • Foods or drinks containing caffeine, such as regular coffee, black tea, soda, and chocolate
    • Foods or drinks that cause gas, such as cooked dried beans, cabbage, broccoli, soy milk, and other soy products
    • Foods that are high in fiber, such as raw fruits and vegetables, cooked dried beans, and whole wheat breads and cereals
  • Take care of your rectal area:
    • Instead of toilet paper, use a baby wipe or a squirt of water from a spray bottle to clean yourself after bowel movements
    • Ask your nurse about taking sitz baths, which is a warm-water bath taken in a sitting position that covers only the hips and buttocks
    • Tell your doctor or nurse if your rectal area is sore
    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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