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What to Expect After Radiation Therapy for Kidney Cancer

Here's an overview of how you may feel after external radiation therapy for kidney cancer: 

  • Your skin in the treated area may become dry, reddened like a sunburn or irritated, and sensitive.

  • You may feel tired, fatigued, or weak. This feeling tends to increase gradually and becomes worse as radiation continues. 

  • Your fatigue may get worse if you develop an infection, anemia, or dehydration.

  • You may have hair loss in the area being treated. Although this is often temporary, higher doses may make this permanent. You won't have the kind of hair loss--over the entire head--that is common with chemotherapy.

  • You may have other symptoms, depending on where the radiation is given. For example, radiation to the abdomen may cause nausea or diarrhea. Radiation to the chest may affect the lungs and lead to shortness of breath. Radiation to the brain may lead to headaches and trouble thinking.

  • Radiation may worsen the side effects of chemotherapy.

Ask your doctor which symptoms, if any, require that you call him or her right away. For instance, it is wise to call your doctor if you have signs of infection, such as fever or pain.

Long-term side effects of radiation may not show up for many years after you complete treatments. How severe they are depends on the dose, frequency, and location of the treatments. Ask your doctor what you may expect.


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