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.

After treatment has finished

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.


Follow-up

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.


Beginning to recover

Now your primary cancer treatment has ended, you may feel ready to get on with your life and look forward to the future. But it’s common to have days when you feel less positive, or to have days when you still feel some of the effects of treatment.

To begin with, it’s important not to expect too much of yourself and to accept that it will take you time to recover. If you think about everything you’ve been through, then it’s not surprising that your recovery is likely to be gradual.

You may have new challenges to cope with, such as physical effects caused by your cancer or its treatment. It usually takes time to adjust to these and to find out what’s now normal for you.

After your treatment is over, how often you’ll see your specialist for check-ups will depend on the type of cancer and the treatment you had. However, it’s important to remember that support is available to help you with any physical or emotional problems you have.

Many people find that over time they settle back into their usual routines. You may want to think about planning a holiday, seeing friends, getting out more, getting back to hobbies or sport, and going back to work.

The experience of cancer may also make you think about what’s important in your life, and you may make positive changes as a result.


Lifestyle changes

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.

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.

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.

Regular physical activity

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 booklet about physical activity and cancer.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies may help you feel better and reduce any stress and anxiety. Relaxation, counselling and psychological support are available at some hospitals.  Although these are not widely available, some hospitals may 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 information on cancer and complementary therapies tells you about different therapies and gives advice on choosing a therapist.

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


Back to Radiotherapy explained

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. This treatment aims to treat cancer or relieve symptoms.

Possible side effects

There are things you can do to help manage the possible side effects of radiotherapy treatment.

How should I prepare for radiotherapy?

Prepare for your radiotherapy by finding out what treatment involves and how it may affect your everyday routine.

Planning your treatment

Radiographers will work with you to plan your radiotherapy treatment.

Where will you have radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy treatment is given in a hospital’s radiotherapy department

Possible side effects of pelvic radiotherapy

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

Who might I meet?

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