Late effects of cancer treatment

All cancer treatments are different and affect people in different ways. Most people have some side effects during treatment. But some people also have late effects of treatment. 

Late effects are side effects that:

  • begin during or shortly after treatment and do not go away within 6 months – they can become permanent and are sometimes called long-term effects
  • do not affect you during treatment but begin months or even years after your treatment ends.

Late effects can sound worrying. But for some people, late effects may not affect daily life much. Other people may have to slightly adapt their lifestyle. But there is a lot that can be done to help manage late effects. If you notice any new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse, tell your treatment team.

Your cancer doctor or nurse can tell you whether you are likely to have any late effects from treatment. This will depend on which treatment you have. You will have regular follow-up appointments at the hospital after you finish treatment. This is to monitor how you are and to check for any late effects. You may have some tests and scans as part of your follow-up. 

It is very important that you go to all your follow-up appointments. This makes sure that your team can notice any late effects early and helps keep you well for the future. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often you will have follow-up appointments. You usually have them for many years. Sometimes you may have them for the rest of your life. Your cancer doctor or nurse may refer you to a late effects clinic for your appointments.

Late effects of pelvic radiotherapy

Hear about some possible late effects of pelvic radiotherapy and advice on how to deal with them in the long term.

About our cancer information videos

Late effects of pelvic radiotherapy

Hear about some possible late effects of pelvic radiotherapy and advice on how to deal with them in the long term.

About our cancer information videos