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Can Radiation Cause Skin Cancer

What Causes Nausea And Vomiting In People With Cancer

Radiation Treatment for Skin Cancer, Patient Education, Florida Cancer Specialists

Nausea and/or vomiting in the person with cancer can be caused by many different things, such as:

  • Cancer treatments
  • The expectation of vomiting because of vomiting before in the same setting
  • Other diseases or illnesses

Not all people who get cancer treatments have nausea and/or vomiting. Your risk for having nausea or vomiting depends on the type of cancer being treated and the type and dose of treatment being given.

Chemotherapy and other drugs used to treat cancer travel throughout the body while radiation therapy treats one part of the body where the cancer is located. For this reason, chemotherapy and some other drugs used for cancer treatment causemore nausea and vomiting than radiation therapy. If you are getting chemotherapy, you might hear your cancer care team refer to it as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting . Your cancer care team knows which treatments have a higher risk for CINV because studies have shown that certain drugs used to treat cancer are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting than other others. Chemo and other drugs used to treat cancer are classified according to their emetogenicpotential as high, moderate, low, or minimal risk. Anti-nausea drugs are used to help control and even prevent nausea and vomiting depending on this risk. You may hear them called anti-emetics.

About The Radiation Oncology Team

Radiation oncologists are the doctors who oversee the care of each person undergoing radiation treatment. Other members of the treatment team include radiation therapists, radiation oncology nurses, medical physicists, dosimetrists, social workers and dietitians. For information on what each of these professionals does or to locate a radiation oncologist near you, visit

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Head Or Neck

People who get radiation to the head and neck might have side effects such as:

  • Soreness in the mouth or throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Jaw stiffness

How to care for your mouth during treatment

If you get radiation therapy to the head or neck, you need to take good care of your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat. Here are some tips that may help you manage mouth problems:

  • Avoid spicy and rough foods, such as raw vegetables, dry crackers, and nuts.
  • Dont eat or drink very hot or very cold foods or beverages.
  • Dont smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol these can make mouth sores worse.
  • Stay away from sugary snacks.
  • Ask your cancer care team to recommend a good mouthwash. The alcohol in some mouthwashes can dry and irritate mouth tissues.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt and soda water every 1 to 2 hours as needed.
  • Sip cool drinks often throughout the day.
  • Eat sugar-free candy or chew gum to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Moisten food with gravies and sauces to make it easier to eat.
  • Ask your cancer care team about medicines to help treat mouth sores and control pain while eating.

If these measures are not enough, ask your cancer care team for advice. Mouth dryness may be a problem even after treatment is over. If so, talk to your team about what you can do.

How to care for your teeth during treatment

Radiation treatment to your head and neck can increase your chances of getting cavities. This is especially true if you have dry mouth as a result of treatment.

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How The Government Of Canada Protects You

The Public Health Agency of Canada monitors cancer in Canada. PHAC identifies trends and risk factors for cancer, develops programs to reduce cancer risks, and researches to evaluate risks from the environment and human behaviours. Health Canada also promotes public awareness about sun safety and the harmful effects of UV rays.

If Radiation Can Cause Skin Cancer How Can It Also Be Used To Treat And Cure It

DNA Damage Caused by Ultraviolet Radiation

The same way radiation causes changes to healthy cells, it can also be used to cause changes in the cancer cells. Instead of causing the cells to grow, it can be used to cause the cancer cells to die.

Image-Guided SRT is a type of skin cancer treatment that uses very low levels of radiation to kill cancer cells. This is the same type of X-ray energy that dentists use. Image-Guided SRT starts with an ultrasound to measure how big and deep the cancer is. That tells the doctor exactly how much X-ray energy is needed. That energy is given only to the skin cancer, leaving the healthy skin untouched. After a couple treatments, the cancer cells die and the cancer is cured. There is no cutting, bleeding, scars, or reconstructive surgery needed.

Image-Guided SRT is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is done right in the dermatologists office and can cure basal and squamous cell skin cancers. If you or someone you know have one of these common types of skin cancer and do not want to have surgery, ask your dermatologist about Image-Guided SRT.

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What To Do When You Get Sunburnt

The best thing to do is to stay out of the sun, cover up when you have to go outside and give your skin time to heal. Drink plenty of water, use cool compresses and pain medication if necessary and see your GP if you think the burn is more severe than can be handled at home. For more advice, please see the NHS website on sunburn.

Modifiable Risk Factors: Uv Exposure

Although genetic factors have perhaps the greatest influence on skin cancer risk, nearly all skin cancers are also related, at least in part, to UV exposure. UV exposure stimulates melanocytes to produce melanin, which can appear as tanned skin, and indicates damage to the skin, skin cells, and DNA more intense exposures can result in sunburn, indicating cell death.

Types of UV radiation

Types of ultraviolet radiation and skin penetration. .

Patterns of UV Exposure

Variations in UV by Time and Place

UV radiation varies dramatically both daily and seasonally, as well as by latitude and altitude. The US Environmental Protection Agency has developed the UV Index, a tool to help individuals avoid overexposure to the sun. The UV Index Web site and mobile app provide daily and hourly UV intensity forecasts that are measured on a scale from 1 to 11 + . UV intensity peaks at midday and on the summer solstice. For a list of average winter versus summer UV Indices for selected American cities, see . UV intensity cannot be felt and must be measured. Because temperature does not always correlate with UV intensity, it is important to check the UV Index and heed the corresponding precautions.

Average seasonal UV index value for selected US cities. .

Occupational UV Exposure

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Is Internal Radiation Therapy Used To Treat Skin Cancer

Internal radiation therapy is when a radioactive material is placed on or in the body.1 This type of radiation therapy is one of the main treatments for melanoma of the eye. A radioactive plaque is placed near the tumor. The word for this is brachytherapy. The plaque stays in place for several days. Then your doctor removes it.3

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What Are Radiation Burn Symptoms

How to care for your skin during radiation therapy

Radiation therapy can take place over days to several weeks, with radiation burn symptoms happening during radiation therapy or after therapy is done. Common radiation burn symptoms are:

  • Reddening of white skin or darkening of skin that is black or brown.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Swelling.
  • Blistering.
  • Open sores that may appear where your skin is sweaty or damp, such as your armpits or under your breasts.

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How Sex Might Be Affected

With some types of radiation therapy involving the pelvis and/or sex organs, men and women may notice changes in their ability to enjoy sex or a decrease in their level of desire.

For women: During radiation treatment to the pelvis, some women are told not to have sex. Some women may find sex painful. Treatment can also cause vaginal itching, burning, and dryness. You most likely will be able to have sex within a few weeks after treatment ends, but check with your doctor first. Some types of treatment can have long-term effects, such as scar tissue that could affect the ability of the vagina to stretch during sex. Again, your cancer care team can offer ways to help if this happens to you. You can also get more information in Sex and Women With Cancer.

For men: Radiation may affect the nerves that allow a man to have erections. If erection problems do occur, they are usually gradual, over the course of many months or years. Talk with your doctor about treatment options if this is a concern for you. You can get more information in Sex and Men With Cancer.

If you get internal radiation therapy with seed implants, check with your cancer care team about safety precautions during sex

What Skin Cancer Looks Like

Skin cancer appears on the body in many different ways. It can look like a:

  • Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others

  • Dome-shaped growth

  • Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns

  • Brown or black streak under a nail

It can also show up in other ways.

To find skin cancer on your body, you dont have to remember a long list. Dermatologists sum it up this way. Its time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:

  • Differs from the others

  • Itches

  • Bleeds

To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. Youll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. Theres even place to record what your spots look like. Youll find this page, which you can print, at Body Mole Map.

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Personal Or Family History Of Skin Cancer


Individuals who have been diagnosed with melanoma are at increased risk for a second primary melanoma. That risk may be as high as 5% and is higher in older men and in those whose first melanoma was on the upper body and face.

People with family members who have or had melanoma have approximately twice the risk of developing melanoma as those without a family history, and should be examined on a regular basis.

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers

The evidence for an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers with a family history of such cancers is increasing, but it is still weaker than the evidence for a familial connection to the risk of melanoma. The nonmelanoma skin cancers at this time are more related to sun exposure than genetics.

What Are Melanocytes

Infographic: Sunburn, Sunscreen, and SPF

A diagram of melanocytes in the skin.

Your skin is made up of several different types of cells, each serving a specific function.

One type of skin cell, called a melanocyte, is responsible for producing melanin, which is the pigment that creates your skin, eye, and hair color. This process is called melanogenesis. Melanocytes are also responsible for the formation of moles on your skin.

Melanocytes are found in the deepest part of the top layer of skin, called the basal layer. They account for about 5 to 10% of the cells in the basal layer.

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What Is The Uv Index

In order to address the growing concern by Canadians regarding changes in UVR resulting from ozone depletion, Environment Canada rates the UV intensity as UV Index on a scale of 0 to 11+ . It can go to the mid-teens at midday in the tropics. In Canada the UV Index is categorized into low , moderate , high , very high and extreme .

The human health effects and precautions relating to the UV Index are summarized in the following table.

Table 3
Very High
  • Extra precautions required – unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.
  • Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and take full precautions – seek shade, cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
11+ Extreme
  • Values of 11 or more are very rare in Canada. However, the UV Index can reach 14 or more in the tropics and southern U.S.
  • Take full precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn in minutes. Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • White sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV radiation and increase UV exposure.

Sun Protection Messages, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Global Solar UV Index: A Practical Guide. A joint recommendation of the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

The Factors Of Variation Of Efudex Side Effects

There is no set list of side effects all Efudex users will encounter. The side effects vary depending upon the area you are treating, the length of treatment, and the number of times you are applying daily. The big reason Efudex cant easily be defined in terms of normal stems from the fact that our individual levels of damage differ considerably from one person to the next. I learned this pretty quickly the first two years I treated my chest with Efudex.

My own reactions to the cream were so different from the first year to the third year I would have sworn I wasnt using enough cream or that my tube of cream wasnt potent enough. The first year, the skin between my collar bone and breasts exploded in one intense patch of dry, itchy, redness that tightened and throbbed. The next fall, I treated the same area and noted a significant decrease in redness. The third year yielded a major reaction equal to that of the first year. I was amazed and confused all at once.

I compiled the following list of reported side effects after spending the last three years using the cream myself on my face and chest and sharing and learning along with fellow Efudex users.

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Cataracts And Other Eye Damage

Cataracts are a form of eye damage in which a loss of transparency in the lens of the eye clouds vision. If left untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness. Research has shown that UV radiation increases the likelihood of certain cataracts. Although curable with modern eye surgery, cataracts diminish the eyesight of millions of Americans and cost billions of dollars in medical care each year.

Other kinds of eye damage include pterygium , skin cancer around the eyes, and degeneration of the macula . All of these problems can be lessened with proper eye protection. Look for sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses if you wear them, that offer 99 to 100 percent UV protection.

Dermatologists Treat Skin Problems Caused By Cancer Treatment

Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer at Water’s Edge Dermatology

As the skin, hair, and nail specialist, dermatologists are often called upon to treat reactions caused by cancer treatment. They are familiar with the many reactions that can occur during and years after cancer therapy.

If you develop a skin problem after cancer treatment, you dont have to live with the discomfort.

ImageImage used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 54:28-46.

ReferencesAmerican Academy of Dermatology. Skin conditions could hinder treatment in cancer patients, negatively impact quality of life. News release issued February 4, 2011. Last accessed August 24, 2018.

Greenwald E, Gorcey L, et al. Poster 2706: Importance of skin cancer screening after radiation therapy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 74 suppl 1:AB199. Commercial support: None identified.

Hymes SR, Strom EA, et al. Radiation dermatitis: Clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006 54:28-46.

Veness M and Richards S. Radiotherapy. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:2127-37.

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Dark Lines On The Fingernails Or Toenails

The appearance of a dark area under a fingernail or toenail that appears without an obvious injury should always be investigated. Melanoma of the nail bed often presents when a pigmented streak of the nail involves the cuticle . These cancers are most common on the thumb and big toe but may occur on any nail.

While subungual melanomas are uncommon in whites, accounting for only around 1% of melanomas, they are the most common form of melanoma found in dark-skinned individuals.

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Cancer Types And Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation can cause cancer in whichever part of the body is exposed to it, but some cancer types seem more common than others. They include leukemia and cancers of the bone marrow, as well as thyroid cancer. Other cancers associated with exposure include lung cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and stomach cancer. For instance, some studies have shown that women with Hodgkins lymphoma who are treated with chest radiation are at higher risk of developing breast cancer when they are older.

You can read more about secondary cancers caused by cancer treatment at the American Cancer Society.

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Leukemia And Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Past radiation exposure is one risk factor for most kinds of leukemia, including acute myelogenous leukemia , chronic myelogenous leukemia , and acute lymphoblastic leukemia . Myelodysplastic syndrome , a bone marrow cancer that can turn into acute leukemia, has also been linked to past radiation exposure. The risk of these diseases after radiation treatment for cancer depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How much of the bone marrow was exposed to radiation
  • The amount of radiation that reached the bone marrow
  • The radiation dose rate

Most often, these cancers develop within several years of a persons radiation treatment. Then the chance of developing a new cancer slowly declines over the following years.


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