Most people have side effects during radiotherapy and for a few weeks afterwards. Usually these gradually improve over a few weeks or months after treatment has ended.
We have more information on the short-term side effects you may have during treatment.
Late effects are side effects that either:
- begin during or shortly after treatment and don’t go away within six months – these are sometimes called long-term effects and occasionally they become permanent
- don’t affect you during treatment but begin months or even years later, as a delayed response to treatment.
We use the term late effects to include both long-term and late effects. The most common late effects after pelvic radiotherapy are changes to the way the bladder and bowel work. Some women may also have changes to the vagina, and men may have difficulty getting or keeping an erection. You may have changes in the physical and emotional feelings associated with sex.
The impact of late effects varies:
- They may be minor and not affect your day-to-day life much.
- They can be more troublesome or difficult to live with, and can restrict or interfere with your day-to-day life.
If you have late effects, there are usually lots of things that can help you cope with them. This will help you live life as fully as possible. Some late effects improve over time and may eventually go away on their own.