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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 30-37

Side effects of radiotherapy on breast cancer patients in the Department of Radiotherapy, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria

1 Radiotherapy, Radiodiagnosis and Radiography College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
2 Department of Radiotherapy, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anthonia C Sowunmi
Department of Radiation Biology, Radiotherapy, Radiodiagnosis and Radiography, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcls.jcls_79_18

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Background: Side effects of radiotherapy (RT) could be temporary or permanent, can be severe, and affect quality of life. An investigation into the side effects of RT on breast cancer patients would help evaluate the incidences and associated risk factors in the low-income countries for patients undergoing RT in order to ensure maximum treatment with very minimal side effects. Objective: To assess the side effects of RT in patients with breast cancer undergoing RT in Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to breast cancer patients on RT that have received treatment for at least 2 weeks at the RT Department between March and August 2016. A total of 146 questionnaires were distributed, whereas 139 were completely filled and returned for the evaluation and analysis, given a response rate of 95.2%. Results: The common side effects noticed from the analysis of this research work included skin erythema (87.1%), fatigue (74.1%), telangiectasia (69.1%), pain (89.9%), breast swelling (45.3%), and loss of hair in the armpit and chest area (87.1%), and the less common ones were breast shrinkage (20.1%), lymphedema (41.0%), cardiac complications (30.9%), lung problems (12.9%), sore throat (7.9%), brachial plexopathy (24.5%), and damage to the bones (ribs; 3.6%). Management of the side effects by patients revealed that 30 (21.6%) used analgesics, 28 (20.1%) used steroidal cream, 27 (19.4%) avoided deodorants and antiperspirant, 22 (15.8%) exercised, 15 (10.8%) took antibiotics, 10 (7.2%) took herbs, and 7 (5%) had to stop treatment temporarily for minimum of a week due to severe morbidity. Conclusion: A large percentage of breast cancer patients undergoing RT experience painful side effects (89.9%), of these 87% experience skin erythema, 74% experience fatigue, and 69% experience telangiectasia.

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