Your doctor, nurse or radiographer will discuss side effects with you so you know what to expect. Let them know about any side effects you have during or after treatment, as there are often things that can be done to help. Side effects usually disappear gradually over a few weeks or months after treatment finishes.
There’s more information about side effects in our information about pelvic radiotherapy.
You may have diarrhoea and sore skin around the back passage. Your specialist will prescribe anti-diarrhoea tablets to reduce it. Some people may be advised to cut down on fibre in their diet. It’s important to drink at least two litres (three and a half pints) of fluids a day.
You may need to pass urine more often and have a burning feeling when you pass urine. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to reduce these symptoms.
Drinking plenty of fluids will also help. Try to drink about two litres (three and a half pints) a day. Some fluids can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse. These include drinks with caffeine, such as tea, green tea and coffee, alcohol, fizzy drinks and drinks containing artificial sweeteners.
These effects usually disappear gradually a few weeks after the treatment has ended.
Effects on the skin
Your skin in the treatment area may redden or get darker and become dry or sore. The radiographer will give you advice on looking after your skin.
Radiotherapy makes you tired and this may continue for several months after treatment. During treatment, you’ll need to get plenty of rest. Try to balance this with some gentle exercise, such as short walks, which will give you more energy. You can gradually build up the amount you do after treatment.
We have more information and a video about coping with fatigue.
You may lose some of your pubic hair. The hair will usually grow back, but may be thinner than it was.