Life after radiation therapy

After radiation therapy has finished, your treatment team will give you general information about your recovery. They will tell you how to look after the treatment area and recommend ways to manage side effects. They will also suggest who to call if you have any questions or concerns.

Radiation therapy usually does not have an immediate effect, and it could take days, weeks or months to see any change in the cancer. The cancer cells may then keep dying for weeks or months after the end of treatment. It may be some time before you know whether the radiation therapy has controlled the cancer.

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Follow-up appointments

You will have regular check-ups with the radiation oncologist at the treatment centre. These will become less frequent over time. You may also have follow-up appointments with nurses from your treatment centre to help manage any ongoing symptoms, as well as regular check-ups with other specialists who have been involved in your treatment.

When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, many people find that they think more about the cancer and may feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.

Let your treatment team know immediately of any health problems between these follow-up appointments. Many of the long-term or late effects of radiation therapy can be managed better if identified early.

Looking after yourself

Cancer and treatment can cause physical and emotional pain. It’s important to try to look after your wellbeing as much as possible.

Eating well and staying active can help you cope. If you’re finding it hard to adjust to the changes in your life, it may help to talk to a counsellor or someone who has had a similar experience. 

For more on this see Life After Cancer Treatment.

This information was last reviewed in December 2017
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