Radiotherapy Patient Information

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Review these instructions with your health care team prior to using them


Most patients receiving radiation therapy do not feel fatigue. Some patients do. Your radiation treatments may cause you to feel tired. Some other people may call it weary, weak malaise, or exhausted. Whatever the word, being tired is a problem for some people receiving radiation therapy. It does not mean that your cancer is increasing or spreading. More often, the fatigue may be a result of your body using a lot of energy to fight the cancer and rebuild healthy cells. It's the body's defense that helps preserve energy for those purposes.


Fatigue may begin during the first week of treatment and may peak in several weeks. It may be worse one to two hours after each treatment. These problems should gradually disappear two to four weeks after you complete your course of radiation treatments. However, if you are also receiving certain types of chemotherapy or have other causes of your fatigue, your fatigue may last longer.

Self-Care Measures:

    1.  Rest when you feel tired. Consider including a rest period just before or just after radiation therapy.

    2.  Plan your day to conserve energy. Mix periods of rest with periods of activity. Plan to rest during the times of the day when you are usually most tired.

    3.  You may notice that you feel less tired on the days when you do not have treatments, like weekends. Take advantage of this, but don't overdo it. Pace yourself.

    4.  Continue to do as many of your usual activities as possible by adjusting your activities according to your energy.

    5.  Ask for assistance from family and friends. Health care agencies and other community resources may help with preparing meals, housework, child cake, transportation, and many other activities. Don't be afraid to ask your health care team for help.

    6.  Eat a well balanced diet. You may wish to take a multi-vitamin supplement (which includes iron). Also, maintain a good fluid intake of at least two quarts per day.

    7.  Consult your health care team if:

a. You are extremely fatigued.
b. You are short of breath.
c. Dizziness occurs.

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