Preparing for radiation treatment – Tips to help you

It’s normal to have some apprehension before your loved one starts external beam radiation treatment.  He is probably feeling nervous, too.

You can offer to go with him the first few times, unless he prefers to go alone.  Here are some other tips to help you know what to expect and to be ready.

Before treatment

  • Your man will most likely have small dots tattooed on his body so his healthcare team will know where to direct the treatment.  They don’t hurt and are about the size of a pinhead.
  • While the actual treatment only takes a few minutes, the set up time can take 20 minutes or longer. If you accompany your man, you might want to bring something to read while you’re waiting for him.
  • It is very important that your loved one lies very still during treatment to make sure the radiation goes where it needs to.  He may want to practice lying still at home for 20 minutes before his first treatment.

Protecting the skin

The doctor or nurse will probably tell your guy to avoid using:

  1. Powders
  2. Creams
  3. Deodorants
  4. Body oils
  5. Ointments
  6. Lotions
  7. Any other skin care products on the areas being treated
  • The doctor will also probably advise to only use lukewarm water and a very mild soap.
  • It’s a good idea to remove all scented or deodorant soaps from the shower before  treatment to make sure your guy doesn’t use them.
  • Your man should avoid wearing wear tight clothing over the areas that are being treated to prevent skin irritation.
  • He should also avoid rubbing, scrubbing, or scratching any areas that are sensitive.
  • Heating pads or ice packs should not be used on treated skin, unless the doctor or nurse says it’s okay.
  • It is important to cover treated areas to protect the skin from sun exposure during treatment and for about a year after treatment ends.
  • If your loved one has to be out in the sun, talk to his doctor or nurse about which sunscreen to use.
  • Some men experience changes in the skin.  For example, it may look darker or look like it is sunburned. If this happens, make sure you tell the doctor or nurse about it.

Coping with fatigue

  • If the doctor or nurse says it’s okay, regular exercise may help lessen the fatigue that is common with radiation treatment.
  • This fatigue tends to occur towards the end of treatment and can linger for several weeks after treatment ends.

Always discuss these tips with a qualified medical professional to be sure they are appropriate for your specific situation.

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