Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat cancer. The purpose of this treatment is to target malignant tumors in the body such as the prostate, the head and the neck, the throat and the breast, and destroy those cancer cells to prevent them from spreading.
This kind of therapy can be very effective in treating cancer, but anyone who has gone through a normal course of radiation therapy may be at risk of suffering from delayed radiation injuries that can significantly impact their health. Due to the fact that these symptoms show up long after you've received radiation therapy, you may not even be able to pinpoint why exactly you're experiencing these health issues. However, FDA-approved treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, can help address your symptoms and are often covered by your insurance, if you do identify the problem.
A delayed radiation injury can occur from six months to more than 30 years after the treatment. These side effects can vary, depending on the area of the body that was radiated. Because it can take so long for these side effects to show up, sometimes it can be difficult for someone to put two and two together. For instance, radiation therapy can cause your bladder to become ischemic, which refers to a lack of blood supply. You may suffer from this condition, but not realize that the radiation therapy you went through 10 years ago is the reason why.
...the type of cancer you had most likely affects the area where you experience symptoms.
The type of cancer you had most likely affects the area where you experience symptoms of delayed radiation injury. But sometimes the symptoms aren't limited to the original location where the treatment was.
If you were treated for prostate cancer, which involves targeting the pelvis with radiation, you may notice certain symptoms elsewhere, including:
- Rectal pain
- Abdominal pain
- Hematuria (blood in your urine)
- Rectal bleeding
- Urinary incontinence
- Severe dysuria
- Erectile dysfunction
Learn more about urology-related symptoms of delayed radiation injury.
If you were treated for breast cancer, you may notice side effects such as:
- Non-healing chest wound
- Changes in your skin
If you were treated for head and neck cancer, you may exhibit other symptoms such as:
- Trouble swallowing
- Excessive dry mouth
- Jaw pain/infection
- Dental issues (i.e., cavities)
If you went through radiation therapy to treat brain cancer, some symptoms you may be experiencing now are:
- Numbness or tingling
- Difficulty with Balance
- Trouble remembering
- Loss of bowel or bladder function
- Weakness of the arms or legs
Other symptoms of delayed radiation injury may include:
- Blood in your stool
- Painful bowel movements
- Bladder spasms
- Constant urge to urinate
If you had radiation therapy in the past and are now experiencing any of these side effects, you could be suffering from delayed radiation injuries. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, may be just what you need to start the healing process.
As Dr. Scott Sherr, a physician partner and head of Innovation and Protocol Development at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions, explains, "There is no other treatment as effective for radiation injury as HBOT. Every other treatment currently available is a temporary fix." But "HBOT, in contrast, yields long-lasting results by healing the body from the inside out by decreasing inflammation and swelling, by repopulating injured tissue with new stem cells to revitalize and strengthen it, and by building new blood vessels to bring nutrients to the tissue in the long-term to keep it healthy."
Find out more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a possible treatment for radiation damage.