Side effects of brachytherapy

All treatments for skin cancer carry a risk of side effects.

People respond to treatments in different ways. Some side effects may appear in the short-term (known as acute side effects) or may appear several months later (long-term side effects).

Brachytherapy is well tolerated by most patients and the risk of long-term side effects is very low.1,2,3

Short-term (acute) side effects

As with all treatments you may experience some side effects immediately after the treatment procedure.

After brachytherapy, you may experience some of the following:1,2,3

  • Mild erythema (redness/rash)
  • Dry or moist desquamation, moderate edema

These short-term side effects are typically mild in nature and usually resolve within 2 weeks after treatment.

Long-term side effects

In the majority of cases, the area of skin being treated will return to normal appearance after a few weeks.

With brachytherapy, as with other treatments, some long-term side effects may be witnessed.

Long-term side effects that may appear after brachytherapy:1,2,3

  • A slight mark or discolouration (either hypo-or hyper pigmentation) of the skin at the area of radiation therapy may occur.
  • Local hair loss at the site of radiation

Discuss your treatment options and the relative risks of potential side effects with your healthcare professional.

References

  1. Delishaj D et al. J Contemp Brachyther 2016; 8(6):533-40. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5114/jcb.2016.64112 Accessed June 2021
  2. Tormo A et al. J Contemp Brachyther 2014; 6(2):167-172. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fjcb.2014.43247 Accessed June 2021
  3. Gauden R et al. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol 2013; 57(2):212-7. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1754-9485.2012.02466.x Accessed June 2021