Side Effects of Radiotherapy for Brain Cancer

Radiotherapy is a process which is used to treat various kinds of cancer including brain cancer.  In this kind of a therapy, a surgery and chemotherapy procedures are used in order to treat primary or metastatic brain cancers which are also called brain tumors. There are many procedures involved within the large category of radiotherapy and these include: external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), Stereotactic radiation therapy (Gamma Knife) and Brachytherapy.

But it is often observed and found that this treatment may have certain harmful effects as well. The following are a few side effects of radiotherapy for brain cancer:

Side Effects of Radiotherapy for Brain Cancer

Hair Loss

Hair loss is a common side effect of radiotherapy for brain cancer and only happens on the area of the head where the therapy takes place. In this process, not all hair is lost, unlike in the case of chemotherapy. In this method, only patches of hair where the radiation of the beam enters and leaves the skull are lost.


Another harmful or side effect of radiotherapy is the fact that the person who is getting this treatment done may feel sick. This side effect is not that common as it doesn’t happen to everyone but doctors can give sickness tablets to the people who experience this so that the tablets can be taken every time before going for the treatment.


It is commonly found that people who get radiotherapy for brain cancer done experience tiredness. This feeling of being tired increases as the treatment progresses and most people tend to sleep a lot after the treatment. This side effect might decrease gradually but it is likely to be there for a few weeks after the treatment. A more severe yet rare form of this side effect is called somnolence syndrome in which one experiences extreme levels of tiredness and this condition might start a few weeks after the treatment has finished.  This side effect is likely to subside in a few days.

Worsening of the Brain Cancer Symptoms

One of the worst side effects of the radiotherapy treatment for brain cancer is the worsening of the symptoms of the brain cancer or tumor. In some cases, the treatment can cause a swelling in the area where radiotherapy is given and this may increase the pressure on the head. This condition gets better with time, just like the other side effects of radiotherapy treatment for brain tumor.