Possible late (long-term) side effects of radiotherapy

Modern ways of planning and giving radiotherapy are designed to limit the chances of late side effects as much as possible. But some people do have long-term effects after head and neck radiotherapy.

Many treatment side effects get better over time. If you have side effects that aren’t getting better or if you develop new symptoms, let your cancer specialist know. They will assess your symptoms and explain if they are likely to be a result of treatment. You may have tests to find out the cause.

Not everyone will have a long-term effect of treatment. If you’re concerned about the risk of developing particular side effects, you should speak to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse.

The most common long-term effects include:

Back to Radiotherapy explained

Planning your treatment

Your radiotherapy will be carefully planned. You’ll have a special mask made to keep your head still during treatment.

Possible side effects

You will get side effects during radiotherapy treatment to your head and neck. These usually improve a few weeks after treatment is over.

Who might I meet?

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