Radiotherapy for Kaposi's sarcoma
Radiotherapy uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells.
Radiotherapy can reduce signs of the KS on the skin. Small lesions may fade completely, and larger and deeper lesions may become smaller and flatter. Radiotherapy also helps improve symptoms such as swelling, pain and bleeding when KS is affecting organs inside the body.
The treatment is usually given as short daily sessions in the hospital radiotherapy department from Monday–Friday, with a rest at the weekend. Each treatment takes 10–15 minutes. For small areas of KS you may need 1–5 treatments, and larger areas may need up to 12.
Your doctor will discuss the treatment with you and explain the side effects you’re likely to get. The side effects will depend on the part of the body that’s being treated.
Side effects of radiotherapy
Radiotherapy to the skin causes side effects such as soreness of the skin. People with pale skin may notice reddening, and people with darker skin may find that their skin becomes darker. You’ll be given instructions on looking after your skin during treatment.
Tiredness is a common side effect of radiotherapy and you may feel tired for some weeks after treatment is over. Make sure you get enough rest and don’t overdo things.
The side effects of your radiotherapy will gradually disappear once your treatment has finished.
Dr Vincent Khoo explains how radiotherapy works, and what to expect during treatment.