Possible Side Effects

Side effects can occur with radiotherapy and radiosurgery. Side effects are cumulative, which means they can develop over several weeks as the radiation accumulates in the tumor. If they do occur, they are usually temporary and should subside shortly after treatment ends. You can ask your oncologist what you might expect from your specific treatment.

These are some common side effects of radiation treatment for lung cancer:

  • Skin irritation, including redness, dryness, tanning, and itchiness. Skin breakdown and ulcer formation ("skin burn") is extremely rare during lung cancer treatment.
  • Loss of hair on your chest, but not the hair on your head. However, certain types of chemotherapy that may be given together with radiation may cause hair loss on your head as well.
  • Shortness of breath, dry cough.
  • Difficulty or pain swallowing, narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Fatigue.