Cancer Survivors Sometimes Face Late Effects of Radiation Treatment

If you or someone you care for received radiation treatment to help fight cancer, there may be conditions that could occur due to the radiation treatment. Radiation kills cancer cells but also may harm healthy tissue. In some cases, these conditions do not cause symptoms for several months or even years following treatment.

Types of Radiation Conditions

Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of the Jaw Bone: These conditions most often occur after a tooth extraction or dental procedure in patients with prior radiation to their face, head or neck.

Soft Tissue Radionecrosis (STRN): Radiation-induced soft tissue conditions most often occur in the lower abdomen, on bony areas and the face. Moist skin folds such as those under the breast, the armpit and groin area are also common sites of conditions.

Radiation-Induced Cystitis: Radiation treatment to the abdomen or groin region can damage the bladder causing pelvic and urinary pain and incontinence.

Symptoms of Radiation Conditions

Pain is the most common symptom associated with most radiation conditions. Additional symptoms of ORN include jaw pain and complications following dental procedures. Symptoms of cystitis include incontinence, diarrhea, constipation and bleeding.

Treatment of Radiation Conditions

There is hope for healing radiation conditions. Wound Care Centers® provide advanced wound care treatments and comprehensive care for radiation conditions that can include hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) and other advanced treatments.

HBO may speed healing to wounds and soft tissue conditions by increasing the amount of oxygen carried in the blood. While receiving HBO, patients lay down in a large, clear see-through chamber, surrounded by 100 percent oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. The increased oxygen promotes the growth of blood vessels, helping to heal soft tissue conditions and wounds that may have been caused by radiation.