There are different terms used to describe side effects that develop after treatment, or side effects that you still have after treatment is over. The two most commonly used terms are:
- long-term effects
- late effects.
Long-term effects begin during, or shortly after, treatment and do not go away in the 6 months after treatment. They may go away eventually on their own. Symptoms may slowly get better over 1 or 2 years after treatment ends, or even longer. Sometimes long-term effects are permanent.
Late effects are a delayed response to treatment. They do not appear during treatment, but can happen months or even years later.
In this information, we use the term late effects to include both long-term and late effects.
Doctors and researchers are trying to make sure people get the best treatment but have as few side effects as possible. Treatment for head and neck cancer is always developing and people are living for longer because of improved treatments. We are also learning more about late effects and how they can be managed.