Exposure to Radiation During Cancer Treatment Can Have Negative Effects

November 30, 2017 // 2 min read Radiation Tissue Damage

Did you know eating bananas exposes you to radiation? Not to be alarmed, the level is so low it is not harmful to humans. However, higher amounts of radiation exposure, specifically those involved in treating different cancers, could cause adverse symptoms and health conditions.

As the World Health Organization (WHO) explains, radiation exposure can have deleterious physiological consequences: “Ionizing radiation is radiation with enough energy so that during an interaction with an atom, it can remove tightly bound electrons from the orbit of an atom, causing the atom to become charged or ionized.”

Because radiation treatment for certain types of cancers is targeting a specific area of the body and exposing it to higher-than-normal radiation levels, the treatment may effectively rid the patient of the illness, but can also harm that part of the body. While the targeting of the radiation has improved over the years, it's still very possible that those undergoing treatment could incur damage to the area, even years past, causing delayed radiation injury.


Delayed radiation injury refers to damage caused by radiation therapy that someone experiences at least six months after the initial treatment. As a result, it’s extremely important to contact a health care professional if you notice any of the warning signs, listed below.


There are several symptoms associated with this condition, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Hematuria (blood in urine)
  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Infections

Oftentimes, specific symptoms are connected to the type of cancer a person was treated for. Common symptoms of delayed radiation injury among those treated for prostate cancer, for example, include: rectal pain and bleeding, abdominal pain, hematuria, severe dysuria, and proctitis. 


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the only treatment for radiation damage from delayed radiation injury that heals from the inside out, potentially leading to long-term, sustained healing of tissue. This non-invasive, all-natural procedure repopulates the afflicted area of the body with new blood vessels and stem cells and decreases scarring and fibrosis (ruddy, inflexible tissue).  

Again, anyone experiencing symptoms associated with radiation exposure from cancer treatment should consult with a medical professional immediately for an official diagnosis and the proper treatment.


Learn more about HBOT as a potential treatment option here. Download our eBook for additional information, or schedule a consultation today.


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Written by Alan Katz, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, UHM/ABEM

Dr. Alan Katz, medical director at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS), is double board certified in Emergency Medicine and Hyperbaric Medicine. He directs clinical operations, as well as education and research initiatives for HMS, particularly in exploring the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the treatment of traumatic brain injury, Lyme disease, and other inflammatory processes. He earned his medical degree from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, and completed his Emergency Medicine Residency at Long Island Jewish Medical Center....

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