Side effects of proton therapy

General side effects

The reactions of the body go together with the area that is being radiated. There are however a number of general reactions that can occur in the course of the treatment. Fatigue, an increased need for sleep, a reduced appetite are just a few examples.

Your physician will inform you about these and will discuss with you in which manner these reactions can be managed.

If you have any complaints, it is best to discuss this with your physician or nurse. There are information brochures about specific problems.

The effect of the radiation can linger for a longer period and often may not reach its full effect until after several weeks. If you have little or no problems as a result of the radiation, this shouldn't worry you. The effect of the radiation does not depend on whether you experience little or a lot of side effects. Talk to your physician so that he can give you the correct information.

Specific side effects

Depending on the body part that is being radiated, specific side effects may occur.

Discuss your complaints with the attending physician or nurse. They can give you advice on how to best handle your complaints or what you can do about it.

Skin reaction

It is very normal for your skin to react to the radiation. The degree in which your skin reacts strongly depends on a number of factors such as the dose that was administered and the location of the radiation.

Your skin can only react where it's being radiated. In the radiation area you skin can be red, very dry and slightly swollen. Afterwards it will start to flake. The skin in the radiation area is itchy and sensitive. In a number of cases the skin can turn dark red. It will also be shiny and painful. There may be blisters that open up and release fluid. They appear most frequently in the skin folds, e.g. behind the ears, in the groin or the perineum.

Skin reactions can occur both during and after the radiation sessions. The nurses and your attending physician will monitor this during your treatment. They can also give you advice about how to best protect your skin and look after it. (e.g. by using hydrating cream, protective clothing …).

Last edit: 2 July 2020