When you are on radiotherapy treatment for mesothelioma you need to take special care of yourself to protect your health and minimize the side effects during radiation treatment. Your doctor or nurse will give you advice about your treatment and the side effects you might have. Here are some useful tips for you:
• Get plenty of rest- Radiotherapy may make you feel more tired than normal. Make sure you get good, restful sleep at night. This tiredness, often called fatigue, may continue even for several weeks after your treatment ends.
• Eat a balanced, nutritious diet- Depending on the area of the body that will get radiation (for example, the abdomen or chest area), your doctor or nurse may suggest changes in your diet.
• Take special care of the skin over the area of the tumor- If you get external radiation therapy, the skin in the treatment area over the region of the tumor may become hypersensitive or look sunburned. The use of soaps, lotions, deodorants, medicines, perfumes, cosmetics, talcum powder, or other substances on the treated area should be highly restricted and you should ask for your doctors advice before you use any of these products on the skin.. Some of these products may irritate sensitive skin.
• Avoid wearing tight clothes- This includes girdles, pantyhose, or close-fitting collars over the treatment area. Instead, wear loose, soft cotton clothing. Do not starch your clothes.
• Do not rub, scrub, or use adhesive tape on treated skin-If you skin must be covered or bandaged, use paper tape or other tape for sensitive skin. Try to put the tape outside the treatment area, and do not put the tape in the same place each time.
• Do not put heat or cold (such as a heating pad, heat lamp, or ice pack) on the treatment area- Talk with your doctor first. Even hot water may hurt your skin, so use only lukewarm water for washing the treated area.
• Shield the treated area from the sun- Your skin may be extra sensitive to sunlight. If possible, cover the treated skin with dark-colored clothing before going outside. Ask your doctor if you should use a lotion that contains a sunscreen. If so, use a sunscreen product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Reapply the sunscreen often, even after your skin has healed. Continue to give your skin extra protection from sunlight for at least 1 year after radiation therapy.
• Tell your doctor about medicines you are taking before treatment- Let your doctor know if you take any medicines, even things like aspirin, vitamins, or herbs.
Always tell your doctor and nurse about any side effects you might be experiencing, and any other medical concerns you may have. These side effects could include skin changes, tiredness (fatigue), diarrhea, or trouble eating.
Side effects vary from patient to patient and will depend on the radiation dose and the part of your body treated. Some patients do not experience any side effects, while others have quite a few. There is no way to know who might or might not have side effects. Your overall health can sometimes affect how your body reacts to radiation treatment and whether you have side effects.