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Potential Side Effects from Radiation Therapy for Primary Bone Cancer

Radiation therapy affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. The side effects of radiation depend on the amount and the type of radiation you get. Be sure to let your doctor know of any side effects you have.

Here’s an overview of what effects you might feel during or after having radiation therapy:

  • Mild skin problems

  • Tiredness that does not improve with rest 

  • Hair loss in the area treated

  • Skin redness, burning, sores, or blisters

  • Nausea and diarrhea from radiation to the stomach area

  • Organ damage can be seen, depending on where the radiation is aimed 

  • Trouble breathing and shortness of breath due to lung damage from radiation to the chest

  • Swelling, pain, and weakness in the arm or leg

Radiation may also make the symptoms of chemotherapy worse. However, many of these symptoms will go away after your treatment is complete. Great progress has been made in managing symptoms.

Talk with your doctor about ways to deal with these side effects. Ask which symptoms, if any, require that you call him or her immediately.

Radiation therapy can also cause some long-term side effects, especially in growing children. Radiation can slow bone growth, which may cause one leg to be shorter than the other, for example. This is not a concern in those who have reached their full height, however. Another side effect of radiation is an increased risk of cancer in the area that received the radiation. Because of these potential side effects, doctors are careful to keep the doses of radiation as low as possible while still treating the tumor effectively. 


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