After treatment for radiotherapy
When your treatment has finished, you may have regular check-ups that will eventually become less frequent. You’ll also need some time to recover, and you might want to make some positive changes to your lifestyle when you’re feeling well enough.
After your radiotherapy has finished, your oncologist will let you know how you will be followed up, if this is needed. It will depend on your type of cancer, the type of radiotherapy you’ve had and how you got on with your treatment.
Some people are given regular follow-up appointments or are referred back to the specialist who recommended the radiotherapy. Follow-up appointments usually happen about 4–6 weeks after the treatment has finished. They may be at the radiotherapy department or at your original hospital.
Other people are followed up by telephone with a nurse or radiographer. They will be able to assess how you’re doing by asking you questions. If they’re concerned that you’re not progressing as you should be, they will arrange for you to have an appointment at the clinic.
Follow-ups are a good opportunity to discuss any problems or worries you have. It may help to make a list of questions beforehand so you don’t forget anything important. If you feel anxious, it can help to have a friend or relative with you.
Not everyone will need follow-up appointments after radiotherapy treatment. If you don’t need a follow-up, you’ll be given advice about problems you should look out for and the details of someone to contact, if necessary.
If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms at any time, or between appointments, contact your clinical oncologist or the person you’ve been told to contact. Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment – just ask for an earlier one.
Coming to the end of your radiotherapy treatment can be a time of mixed emotions. You’ll probably feel relieved, but there can also be feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. It can take time to rebuild confidence and to come to terms with what you’ve been through. It may also take time to recover from treatment. You may feel tired for a while and you may have emotional changes to deal with, so it’s important to give yourself time to adjust.
You can ask your healthcare team for the details of local support groups that may be able to help you or you can talk to one of our cancer support specialists.
When treatment is over, you may want to think about making changes to your lifestyle and find out more about healthy living. Perhaps you already followed a healthy lifestyle before your treatment, but you now want to be more focused on making the most of your health. There are things you can do to help your body recover. These can also help improve your sense of well-being and lower your risk of getting other illnesses and other cancers.
It’s important to have a nutritious and well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, even if your appetite and interest in food have been reduced.
Giving up smoking
If you’re a smoker, it’s important to try to give up. Smoking can delay your recovery and puts you at greater risk of developing a second cancer.
Giving up smoking can be difficult but there is lots of support available.
This can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can help you to feel better in yourself and help to build up your energy levels. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Talk to your cancer specialist or GP before you start exercising. Start slowly and increase your activity over time.
You can read more about exercise and its benefits in our section about physical activity and cancer.
Complementary therapies may help you feel better and reduce any stress and anxiety. Relaxation, counselling and psychological support are available at many hospitals. Some hospitals also offer visualisation, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and hypnotherapy. Therapies are sometimes available through cancer support groups or your GP. Many complementary therapists also have private practices.
Our section on cancer and complementary therapies tells you about different therapies and gives advice on choosing a therapist.