You may have a skin reaction that looks like a sunburn. Your skin will later become slightly darker than normal. This side effect can be greater if you are also getting certain chemotherapy drugs. It usually fades over several months. Your skin may be dry after treatment. Use alcohol-free lotions, creams, or oils to help relieve the dryness. The radiation therapy nurses will tell you what to use during radiation. After your transplant, stay out of the sun as much as possible. When you are outside, protect your skin with a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher at all times.
Salivary Gland Symptoms
The salivary glands are found on both sides of your neck and under your chin. These glands may become tender and swollen and you may have less saliva. The swelling will go down a few days after your radiation therapy. The decrease in saliva is usually temporary. In most cases, it improves after several months.
Some patients develop cataracts months to years after TBI. These are often mild and do not need to be removed. If you develop dense cataracts, they can be removed surgically.
Some patients who have a transplant get another cancer later. Some of the treatments for you cancer can cause other types of cancer. Your risk depends on your age, your health, your family history of cancer, and other treatments you have had. Your transplant doctor can tell you more about your risk for getting a second cancer. Ask what regular screening checks you should have in the future.
Some patients have low thyroid function after TBI. You will have blood tests to check for this side effect. If you develop it, you will be given a thyroid hormone. You will need to take this pill once a day for the rest of your life.
Specific Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Certain drugs such as Cytoxan, can irritate the lining of the bladder. This may cause blood in the urine and painful urination. To help prevent this, you will receive large amounts of IV fluids, which will make you urinate often. Try to urinate at least every one to two hours on the days your receive Cytoxan. Your urine will be measured and checked for blood.
Coping with Side Effects
We cannot predict which of the above side effects you will have or how severe they will be. Your may feel some of them just a little, or you may feel them a lot. Because of your treatments, there may be days when you feel very sick. We can give you medicine to try to help you feel better, so it is important to tell us how you are feeling. We need to work together to assure that you receive the best possible care. The Integrative Medicine staff is available to teach you relaxation methods. Some patients have found this helpful. You can go to the Patient Support Pavilion and participate in guided imagery sessions available from 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday.