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The Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer

Melissa Jane Culligan University of Maryland

Radiation therapy itself is painless, but some people may experience some general side effects as soon as seven to 10 days after treatment starts. According to the American Cancer Society, these include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, blistering or peeling skin and hair loss in the area where radiation enters the body. These side effects can be severe if the radiation is given along with chemotherapy, but they usually go away after the treatment ends.

If the radiation is directed to the middle of the chest, your food tract, or esophagus, may become inflamed, making it difficult to swallow. Some people may also have heartburn and trouble eating solid foods for a while. Melissa Culligan, a thoracic surgery nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, says it’s important that you stay in close touch with the members of your cancer care team and notify them of any discomfort so that they can help manage these issues.

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Melissa Culligan, RN, MS, is a thoracic surgery nurse and Director of Clinical Research in Thoracic Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Read More