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Caring for Yourself

Get plenty of rest during treatment, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Follow your doctor's orders. Ask if you are unsure about anything. Tell your doctor about any medications or vitamins you are taking, to make sure they are safe to use during radiation therapy. Eat a balanced diet. If food tastes funny or if you're having trouble eating, tell your doctor, nurse or dietitian. They might be able to help you change the way you eat. Treat the skin exposed to radiation with special care. Stay out of the sun, avoid hot or cold packs, only use lotions and ointments after checking with your doctor or nurse and clean the area with warm water and mild soap.

Good dental care can lessen the risk of mouth infections and tooth decay. Careful brushing of your teeth can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease and jaw infections. Use a fluoride toothpaste without abrasives. Floss gently between your teeth daily using a waxed, non-shredding dental floss. It may help to rinse daily with a salt and baking soda solution. If you have questions about your dental care, ask your dentist and radiation oncologist.

Completing treatment and recovery can be challenging. Seek out help from support groups and friends ahead of time, since you should have support in place before you start getting side effects. If you need additional support, let your doctor and nurse know.