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Nearly two thirds of patients with cancer will undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. Given the increased use of radiation therapy and the growing number of cancer survivors, family physicians will increasingly care for patients experiencing adverse effects of radiation. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been shown to significantly improve symptoms of depression in patients undergoing chemotherapy, although they have little effect on cancer-related fatigue. Radiation dermatitis is treated with topical steroids and emollient creams. Skin washing with a mild, unscented soap is acceptable. Cardiovascular disease is a well-established adverse effect in patients receiving radiation therapy, although there are no consensus recommendations for cardiovascular screening in this population. Radiation pneumonitis is treated with oral prednisone and pentoxifylline. Radiation esophagitis is treated with dietary modification, proton pump inhibitors, promotility agents, and viscous lidocaine. Radiation-induced emesis is ameliorated with 5-hydroxytryptamine3 receptor antagonists and steroids. Symptomatic treatments for chronic radiation cystitis include anticholinergic agents and phenazopyridine. Sexual dysfunction from radiation therapy includes erectile dysfunction and vaginal stenosis, which are treated with phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and vaginal dilators, respectively.
Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: American family physician
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Preliminary cancer therapy (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone/endocrine therapy, immunotherapy, hyperthermia, etc.) that precedes a necessary second modality of treatment.
Organs which might be damaged during exposure to a toxin or to some form of therapy. It most frequently refers to healthy organs located in the radiation field during radiation therapy.
The effects of ionizing and nonionizing radiation upon living organisms, organs and tissues, and their constituents, and upon physiologic processes. It includes the effect of irradiation on drugs and chemicals.
Drugs used to protect against ionizing radiation. They are usually of interest for use in radiation therapy but have been considered for other, e.g. military, purposes.
Assistance in managing and monitoring drug therapy for patients receiving treatment for cancer or chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, consulting with patients and their families on the proper use of medication; conducting wellness and disease prevention programs to improve public health; overseeing medication use in a variety of settings.
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