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Side effects from radiation therapy to the prostate


Short-term side effects of radiation therapy to the prostate are mostly predictable, and depend on your treatment site, the dose, the number of treatments and your general health.

Remember that everyone is different. These are all the possible side effects, it’s unlikely you will experience all of the side effects below.

Bladder irritation

As you progress through your treatment, radiation therapy can irritate the bladder lining and the urethra. Symptoms can include:

  • The need to urinate more often
  • A sudden urge to empty your bladder
  • A burning sensation when you urinate
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood or particles in the urine

Fatigue

Fatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy. You may feel tired or lack energy for daily activities during your treatment. This is a normal reaction to the radiation therapy and each person is affected in varying degrees. Finding a balance between rest and activity will help you manage daily life.

Skin reaction

The skin around the anus may become irritated if you experience frequent or loose bowel actions.

  • Wash your skin gently with warm water and non-perfumed soap
  • Do not use talcum powder in the treatment area
  • Avoid exposure of the treated area to excessive temperatures including heat packs, ice packs, electric blankets, saunas or hot spas

Bowel irritation

Symptoms of irritation can include:

  • Increase in the amount of times you use your bowels
  • Softer/looser bowel actions
  • Discomfort in passing a bowel motion
  • Urge to use your bowels without passing a motion (tenesmus)
  • Bleeding from the rectum (especially if you have haemorrhoids)
  • Mucus discharge

Sexual functioning

The effect of radiation therapy to sexual function can vary. External beam radiation therapy can damage the nerves that control erections. This may develop over time and be ongoing. There are various options available to help manage erectile dysfunction.

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