After your radiotherapy

After your radiotherapy has finished, your cancer doctor, nurse or radiographer will explain how you will be followed up. Your follow-up depends on the type of cancer and the type of radiotherapy you had. It may include appointments at a clinic or by phone. Or you may just need to know who to contact if you need support or advice.

It can take some time to recover from radiotherapy. Some people find they have a mix of emotions after finishing treatment. Your radiotherapy team or your GP can tell you about what support is available.

There are also things you can to which can help your wellbeing. These may include:

  • eating healthily
  • being active
  • if you smoke, trying to stop.

Some people find that complementary therapies help their well-being.

If you have any problems or notice any new symptoms after your radiotherapy, do not wait for your next appointment. Contact your clinical nurse specialist, cancer doctor or the person you have been told to contact and ask for advice.

Follow-up

After your radiotherapy has finished, your oncologist or radiographer explains how you will be followed up. Your follow-up depends on the type of cancer and the type of radiotherapy you had.

Your follow-up care may involve one of the following:

  • You may not need follow up appointments. Instead, you might get advice about problems you should look out for and the details of someone to contact if you need to.
  • You might have regular follow-up appointments at the radiotherapy department or your original hospital. These may be with the specialist who recommended the radiotherapy. The first appointment is usually 4 to 8 weeks after treatment has finished.
  • A nurse or radiographer may follow-up by telephone. They will check how you are by asking you questions. If needed, they will arrange for you to have an appointment at the clinic.
  • You may do patient-led follow-up. This means you do not have set appointments but can contact the team and arrange one if you are worried. This may not be suitable for everyone. You still have any tests or scans you need as normal.

Follow-up appointments are a good opportunity to discuss any problems or worries you have. It may help to make a list of questions beforehand, so you do not forget anything important. If you feel anxious, it can help to have a friend or family member with you.

Contact your clinical nurse specialist, cancer doctor or the person you have been told to contact if:

  • you have any problems
  • you notice any new symptoms at any time.

Do not wait until your next appointment, just ask for an earlier one.


Well-being and recovery

You may have mixed emotions when you get to the end of your radiotherapy treatment. You will probably feel relieved, but you may also feel anxious and uncertain. Some people find they feel low after finishing the treatment. It can take time to rebuild your confidence and accept what you have been through.

It may also take time to recover from treatment. You may feel tired for a while and might have emotional changes to deal with. It is important to give yourself time to recover and adjust. You can talk to your radiotherapy team if you are worried about anything. You can also call us on 0808 808 00 00 and talk to one of our cancer support specialists. You can also ask your healthcare team for the details of local support groups that may be able to help you.

We have more information to help you with adjusting to life after treatment.

I counted the days to the last radiotherapy session and expected to feel elated. Instead I felt flat and tired. Suddenly, I didn’t have the routine of appointments.

Kathy


Lifestyle changes

When your treatment is over, you may want to think about making some positive changes to your lifestyle. Perhaps you already followed a healthy lifestyle before your treatment. But you may now want to focus more 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 is important to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. You should try to do this even if you have less of an appetite or are less interested in food.

Giving up smoking

If you smoke, it is important to try to stop. Smoking can delay your recovery and increase your risk of developing a second cancer.

Giving up smoking can be difficult, but there is a lot of support available.

Physical activity

Physical activity can be an important part of your recovery after treatment. It can:

  • help you feel better in yourself
  • help increase your energy levels
  • reduce 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.

We have more information about keeping active.

Ted, a middle aged man wearing sunglasses, talks to the camera

The benefits of physical activity

The benefits of physical activity


Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies may help you feel better and reduce any stress and anxiety. Relaxation, counselling and psychological support are available at many hospitals. Some hospitals also offer:

  • visualisation
  • massage
  • reflexology
  • aromatherapy
  • hypnotherapy.

Therapies are sometimes available through cancer support groups or your GP. Many complementary therapists also have private practices.

Not all complementary therapies are suitable for people who have just finished radiotherapy. It is important to check with your healthcare team first if you are thinking of having one.

Back to Radiotherapy explained

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. This treatment is used to cure some types of cancer or to relieve symptoms.

Before your radiotherapy

Before you start radiotherapy, your team will explain what your treatment involves and how it may affect you.

Masks for radiotherapy

During most types of radiotherapy to the brain, head or neck, you wear a mask to help you keep still.

Your radiotherapy team

You will meet many different specialists from your radiotherapy team. You may see them before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.