Complications in oncology treatment are a natural side effect of the therapy. They may be mitigated if the oncologist’s guidelines are observed. An oncology outpatient clinic is a place for consultations, examinations and communication of the most significant information to the patient. News of an oncological disease, oncological diagnosis often incite shock in the patient that limits the patient’s capacity for other information intake. Hence, we publish a digest herein, predominantly for the oncological patient.

How to take care of bodily areas treated during radiation therapy?

If skin burn occurs during radiation therapy (radiation reaction), the irritated site should not be washed with water.

Irradiated skin should be cleaned by rinsing with small amounts of lukewarm water and gently dry with a towel, taking care not to irritate the skin and not to wash away the marking lines. Never use deodorants, creams, oils, substances with an alcohol content, Band-Aids, etc., on the sites in question. What can be used are mild dermocosmetics with a pH natural for the skin that do not contain colorants and odorous substances. Only use an electric shaver for shaving or trim hair with scissors. Never shave the face “wet” with a hand-held shaver or a razor. It is inadmissible to use aftershave lotions. Irritated skin should not be rubbed, scratched, tanned, tattooed, heated or cooled down (e.g., by means of ice-containing sachets). It is counterindicated to take steam baths, go to sauna, undergo cosmetic procedures or take baths in swimming pools with chlorinated water throughout treatment. Never irritate the irradiated site mechanically through rubbing, scratching or wearing tight underwear. It is recommended to wear loose cotton clothes so as not to chafe the irradiated site.

Irradiated skin remains sensitive for several weeks afterwards. The aforementioned recommendations should be followed for 1-2 weeks after the completion of radiation therapy. It is counterindicated to tan in the sun or go to a solarium after a radiation therapy.

How to take care of the drawing (markers in the form of a tattoo)?

  • Do not put cream, oil, balm, etc., on skin marked with lines.
  • It is recommended to cover the drawing with children’s powder or talc in order to boost marker durability.
  • Use wipes to clean the area of and in between the lines. However, avoid children’s wipes as these contain oil.
  • Should the lines fade, please make an appointment to readjust them – it is crucial that the drawing remains very well visible at the day of therapy commencement and throughout its duration.
  • It usually stains clothes.

How to take care of oneself during radiation therapy?

The “shoulds”:

  • ensure balanced, easily digestible diet and appropriate body weight, the lead physician shall provide information concerning individual diet regimen indicated throughout treatment
  • avoid foods that are fat, burden digestion, cause bloating, are acidic, heavily spiced, extremely cold or hot
  • under no condition should you smoke tobacco or drink alcohol during treatment – it predominantly lowers the effects of radiation therapy and may even exacerbate radiation symptoms
  • relax as much as possible and drink a lot of neutral liquids – e.g., still water.

CAUTION! Always inform the physician of:

  • all taken (or scheduled) drugs (even if it’s staple aspirin!)
  • all disturbing symptoms – in case of excessively large skin reactions and other ailments, the physician shall recommend an adequate management method, prescribe suitable medicines, indicate a diet regimen and discontinue treatment, if necessary

What preventive medical check-ups are to be performed and when?

  • After becoming 25, each woman should periodically undergo cytological screening. It helps detect pre-neoplastic conditions that are curable by means of a simple procedure.
  • After completing 50 years of age, mammography should be conducted. This examination allows to detect breast neoplasm at an early stage of advancement.
  • Remember! It does not prevent cancer morbidity but detects cancer early, thereby increasing the odds for curing.
  • After 50th birthday, colonoscopy is recommended, which is an examination of the colon. It is advisable to repeat the examination every five, ten years…

How should a woman go about self-examining breasts?

We should check ourselves once a month, optimally several days after menstruation. Let’s start from a thorough inspection of breasts. We evaluate if skin bears any signs of lesions. Attention must be paid as to whether the nipples are symmetrical and if there is an discharge. In particular, discharge with blood is of concern.

Should dilated blood vessels, orange discoloration and breast skin ulceration be visible, please seek help from an oncologist.

Following inspection, we should move on to examine breasts by means of a circular motion. Pay attention to any irregularities, thickenings, especially small hard lumps should raise an alarm. Remember to check armpits. The first symptom may feature of a feeling of discomfort in the armpit.

Should anything raise concern upon self-examination, contact an oncologist for help. Referral is not a prerequisite to attend an Oncology Outpatient Clinic.