After treatment

Now that your treatment has ended you can focus on your recovery. Cancer can be life changing, so getting back to normal may take some time. It’s likely that you will have good days and bad days. So try not to expect too much straight away.

To begin with, you will have a follow-up appointment to check your progress and to discuss any problems or concerns you may have. If you have any problems between appointments get in touch with your doctor or the person you’ve been told to contact.

You may find you can easily go back to the routine you had before cancer treatment. However, some people have lasting effects following cancer treatment. In this case, you may find it takes some time to adjust to a new routine.

Many people decide to make positive lifestyle changes after finishing cancer treatment. This may include eating more healthily, doing more exercise, stopping smoking or taking up a new hobby.

Follow-up

After your radiotherapy has finished, your oncologist will let you know how you will be followed up. It will depend on your type of cancer, the type of radiotherapy you’ve had and how you responded to treatment.

Not everyone will need follow-up appointments after radiotherapy treatment. If you don’t need a follow-up, you will be given advice about problems you should look out for and the details of someone to contact, if you need to.

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-up appointments 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.

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.


Well-being and recovery

You may have mixed emotions as you come to the end of your radiotherapy treatment. You’ll probably feel relieved, but you may also feel anxious and uncertain. 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 recover and adjust. You can call our support line and talk to one of our cancer support specialists. You can also ask your healthcare team for the details of local support groups that may be able to help you.

We have more information to help support you with adjusting to life after treatment.

My Macmillan speech therapist was with me not just at the beginning, but right until the end of my treatment and beyond during follow-up appointments.

Gary


Lifestyle changes

When your treatment is over, you may want to think about making some positive changes to your lifestyle. 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.

Eating well

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.

Physical activity

This can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can help you feel better in yourself and helps 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.

We have more information about keeping active.

Complementary therapies

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
  • hypnotherapy.

Therapies are sometimes available through cancer support groups or your GP. Many complementary therapists also have private practices.

We have more information about the different types of complementary therapies and advice on choosing a therapist.

Not all complementary therapies are suitable for people who have just finished radiotherapy. It’s important to check with your healthcare team first if you’re thinking of having one.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

Radiotherapy for anal cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. You usually have it along with chemotherapy for anal cancer.

Who might I meet?

You will meet many different specialists before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.