If you or someone you care for received radiation treatment to help fight cancer, there may be injuries that could occur due to the radiation treatment. Radiation kills cancer cells but also may harm healthy tissue. In some cases, these injuries do not cause symptoms for several months or even years following treatment.
Types of Radiation Injuries
Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of the Jaw Bone: These injuries most often occur after a tooth extraction or dental procedure in patients with prior radiation to their face, head or neck.
Soft Tissue Radionecrosis (STRN): Radiation-induced soft tissue injuries most often occur in the lower abdomen, on bony areas and the face. Moist skin folds such as those under the breast, the armpit and groin area are also common sites of injuries.
Radiation-Induced Cystitis: Radiation treatment to the abdomen or groin region can damage the bladder causing pelvic and urinary pain and incontinence.
Symptoms of Radiation Injuries
Pain is the most common symptom associated with most radiation injuries. Additional symptoms of ORN include jaw pain and complications following dental procedures. Symptoms of cystitis include incontinence, diarrhea, constipation and bleeding.
Treatment of Radiation Injuries
There is hope for healing radiation injuries. Wound Care Centers® provide advanced wound care treatments and comprehensive care for radiation injuries that can include hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and other advanced treatments.
HBOT may speed healing to wounds and soft tissue injuries by increasing the amount of oxygen carried in the blood. While receiving HBOT, patients lay down in a large, clear see-through chamber, surrounded by 100 percent oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. The increased oxygen promotes the growth of blood vessels, helping to heal soft tissue injuries and wounds that may have been caused by radiation.
You can find more information about radiation injuries and resources to help prevent chronic wounds at our 2021 The Year of Healing page.