Self-care tips when undergoing radiation for breast cancer
Hi, I’m Dr. Chang-Halpenny. I’m a radiation oncologist. Here are some self-care tips for when you’re going through radiation for breast cancer. Breast cancer treatment typically does affect the skin. It’s the number one side effect that we see with radiation treatments. Because of that, your radiation team here will be providing you creams throughout your treatment to apply to the breast, as well as specific instructions on how and when to apply that cream.
Breast cancer treatment affects the skin
Typically, with radiation treatment in terms of a skin reaction you can see redness, itching sometimes and oftentimes you can get a blister. almost like a bad sunburn toward the end of radiation treatment – sometimes, but not always. Other than using the creams that we provide for you, another good tip is to avoid too much sun exposure in the same area that we’re doing radiation. If you do end up getting any areas of the skin that look very sensitive, avoiding soaking in tubs or being in a pool is a good idea.
Another tip would be to avoid skin on skin contact or friction, such as with an underwire bra. Wearing loose, comfortable clothing is oftentimes better than wearing tight clothing that might irritate the skin further.
Taking care of your mental health
Mental health is also important as part of this and also to keep your energy level up, because radiation can cause fatigue. Sticking to a regular exercise routine is a good idea. Stretching exercises for the arm just to make sure things stay limber is also helpful. An important part of mental health is having your support system too. We’re all here at our center to support you, but having your family and friends help you throughout this journey is never a bad idea, if you’re comfortable with it.
Other things you could do are meditation, yoga, even going for a walk is helpful.