Dr. Swarupa Mitra

Consultant and head of Unit, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer hospital and research Institute. Rohini. New Delhi
Work experience

Dr. Swarupa Mitra Consultant, radiation Oncology. Rajiv Gandhi Cancer hospital and research Institute. Rohini. New Delhi

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    At a camp with ROKO cancer

    Dr. Sawrupa Mitra at a camp with ROKO Cancer

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    European mates at ESTRO

    Dr. Swarupa Mitra with European mates at ESTRO.

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patient testimonials

What are the side effects of Radiation Therapy?

The doses of radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells. Thus the side effects are directly related to the area of the body being treated.While side effects are unpleasant, there are treatments to help deal with them, and most side effects are temporary, disappearing gradually after therapy is complete.


  • Skin reaction: There may be some reddening of the skin and the area may become irritated, dry, or sensitive. A skin reaction may progress to look like a sunburn. Treat the skin gently to avoid further irritation, and bathe carefully using only warm water and mild soap. Avoid perfumed or scented lotions or soaps, as these may cause further irritation.
  • Hair loss: Hair loss may occur in the area being treated. Loss of scalp hair occurs only if radiation is directed to the head. In most cases, the hair grows back following radiation, although it can grow back a different color and/or consistency than before. Hair regrowth will ultimately depend on the total radiation dose that is delivered.
  • Nutritional problems: Radiation can affect the membranes of the mouth and/or gastrointestinal tract, and can cause discomfort while swallowing, altered taste of foods, nausea, and diarrhea. Medications are available to treat nausea and diarrhea, and oral rinses and pain medicine may offer some relief for ulcers of the mucous membranes. Commercial mouthwashes should be avoided, since some contain irritating ingredients like alcohol. If this occurs, patients can try foods that are soft or soothing to the throat (such as ice cream or water ice).
  • Fatigue: patients are not restricted from normal activity during radiation therapy, and many continue to work while undergoing treatment. However, they should balance normal activity with periods of rest, as needed.
  • Neutropenia: A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that is important in fighting infection. While receiving radiation treatments, the body's number of neutrophils may be decreased, which is calleds neutropenia. This puts the patient at a higher risk of getting infections.

Medium and long-term side effects


Tissues which have been irradiated tend to become less elastic over time due to a diffuse scarring process.


Hair loss

This may be most pronounced in patients who have received radiotherapy to the brain. Unlike the hair loss seen with chemotherapy, radiation-induced hair loss is more likely to be permanent, but is also more likely to be limited to the area treated by the radiation.



The salivary glands and tear glands have a radiation tolerance of about 30 Gy in 2 Gy fractions, a dose which is exceeded by most radical head and neck cancer treatments. Dry mouth (xerostomia) and dry eyes (xerophthalmia) can become irritating long-term.



Radiation is a potential cause of cancer, and secondary malignancies are seen in a very small minority of patients, generally many years after they have received a course of radiation treatment.