How radiotherapy can affect your diabetes

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays, usually x-rays and similar rays (such as electrons), to treat disease. It destroys cancer cells in the area that is treated. Normal cells can also be damaged by radiotherapy. They can usually repair themselves, but cancer cells can’t.

Radiotherapy is carefully planned so that it avoids as much healthy tissue as possible. However, there will always be some healthy tissue that is affected by the treatment and this will cause side effects.

Radiotherapy is used to treat many different types of cancer.

How radiotherapy can affect your diabetes

During and immediately after radiotherapy, your blood sugar level may rise. This happens because the body releases extra sugar to help you cope with the treatment.

Depending on your diabetes treatment, your blood sugar may sometimes drop after the radiotherapy.

During your course of radiotherapy treatment, it is important to test your blood sugar more often than usual. Your diabetes team will be able to give you advice on how to manage your blood sugars. You may need to change your medicines or insulin.

If you inject insulin, avoid giving your injections in the area of your skin where you are having radiotherapy.