3 Things to Avoid During Radiation Therapy

Woman receiving an MRI Scan to determine the success of her radiation therapy

3 Things to Avoid During Radiation Therapy

Going through cancer treatment can be a challenging time. There is a lot of new information to absorb and physical and emotional changes to the process. If you are receiving radiation therapy as part of your cancer treatment, you may have questions about the procedure itself, as well as the things you should avoid for the duration of your treatment. We hope that this helpful guide will answer some of the questions you have and better prepare you for your radiation therapy experience. 

What is Radiation?

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy usually utilizes X-rays but can also use protons and other forms of energy. 

During radiation therapy, a high-energy beam is aimed from a machine at a specific part of your body. There is another, less frequently used type of radiation therapy called brachytherapy. Brachytherapy places the radiation inside of your body using a sealed radiation source. 

Radiation therapy damages both healthy and cancerous cells during treatment. The goal of radiation is to destroy as few normal healthy cells as possible and attack cancerous cells. Normal cells can usually repair most of the damage caused by radiation. 

Radiation therapy is one of the most effective forms of cancer treatment, but there are certain things you should avoid during radiation therapy to ensure the best results. 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a thin gel derived from the cactus-like aloe vera plant. It is often used to treat the effects of sunburn, cuts, and light superficial burns. Some patients try using aloe vera to soothe burns left on their skin by radiation therapy; however, that is not advisable.

One study discovered that aloe vera use was associated with higher toxicity levels and could make skin reactions worse. Multiple other studies found aloe vera simply ineffective at treating radiation burns

Missed Radiation Therapy Sessions

One of the most important things you can do while receiving radiation therapy is to be diligent about keeping your appointments. Missing radiation therapy sessions can adversely affect the success of your cancer treatment

According to the National Cancer Institute, patients who miss radiation therapy sessions are at an increased risk of their disease returning, even if they finish the treatment. 

Foods to Avoid During Radiation Therapy

Your doctor is the best person to advise you about the specific diet that’s most suitable for you during radiation therapy. With that said, certain foods are best to avoid during radiation treatment. 

Sodium/Salt – Foods rich in sodium and salt can increase blood pressure and cause your body to retain water. Retaining water can make you hold on to harmful toxins from your treatment.

Fried Foods – Fried foods can be difficult to digest, and their preparation method causes them to have a high level of free radicals, which should be avoided during radiation therapy. 

Spicy Foods – Radiation often causes nausea, loose stools, or constipation. Spicy foods can further irritate the stomach and the rectum and cause discomfort. 

Raw Fish/Shellfish – Radiation therapy kills healthy cells in addition to cancerous cells, which could reduce the strength of your immune system. In addition, raw fish and shellfish are full of viruses and bacteria and can cause infection in individuals with compromised immune systems. 

Unpeeled fruits and Vegetables – Unpeeled fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber, which could be difficult to digest during treatment. Fruit and vegetable peels also contain bacteria which could cause infection if your immune system is compromised due to radiation therapy. 

Ultimately, It is always best to check with your health provider to determine which things you should avoid during your unique radiation therapy treatment. And, of course, Alabama Cancer Care is here to support you along the way. 

Alabama Cancer Care in Alabama is Here to Answer Your Questions!

Going through radiation therapy could prove to be a challenging and difficult time, but our team at Alabama Cancer Care is here to guide you through your journey. If you’d like to find out more about radiation therapy and things you should avoid during treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call us in Anniston at (256) 847-3369, Ft. Payne at (256) 845-3500, Gadsden at (256) 547-0536, Montgomery at (334) 273-8877, and Sylacauga at (256) 245-0297.