Why does radiation therapy have side effects?

Usually aimed at treating tumors, radiotherapy involves exposing an area of ​​the body to high-energy radiation.

These high-energy radiations, also called ionizing radiations, create damage to the DNA of the cells they reach; damage that is permanent and lethal for cancer cells, but temporary and repairable for healthy cells.

The damages that affect healthy cells could give rise to various side effects, some immediate and solvable in a short time, others with longer and decidedly more problematic consequences.

The characteristics and the severity of the side effects depends on the anatomical site subjected to radiotherapy, the dose of ionizing radiation that an individual receives and, finally, the reparative capacity of the healthy cells involved.

Among the most common temporary side effects that are not particularly serious, we mention: the loss of hair and cutaneous hair, the sense of tiredness and irritated skin.

Among the most dangerous side effects, however, it is worth mentioning: infertility, lymphedema and urinary and fecal incontinence.