Follow-up care after radiation therapy
After your treatment ends, you’ll need to visit your doctor regularly. Your doctor will check your progress and help you deal with any problems that may come up. This phase of your treatment is called follow-up care.
Your follow-up care will include:
- Checking the results of your treatment
- Further treatment if necessary
- Rehabilitation and counselling if necessary
You might need to visit your primary care doctor, surgeon and radiation oncologist. The follow-up care you need will depend on the specific treatments you had.
Questions to ask after radiation therapy
When your treatment is finished, you might want to ask your doctor questions such as:
- When can I go back to my normal activities?
- How often will I need to see you?
- What symptoms or side effects should I look for and let you know about?
- Do I need to follow a special diet?
Care after radiation therapy
For a little while after your treatment, you’ll need to continue with some of the special care you took during treatment, such as:
- Taking care of your skin – if you still have skin problems after your treatment ends, be gentle with the skin in the treatment area until all signs of irritation are gone
- Extra rest – you might need more rest while your healthy tissues are rebuilding and healing
- Limit activities – you may need to limit your activities to save energy (try not to go back to a full schedule straight away)
Pain after therapy
You may find you need help managing pain that continues after radiation therapy.
If you are in pain, talk to your specialist and describe the location and type of pain in as much detail as possible.
Keep working with your team until you’re able to get it under control – remember, we’re here to help you recover as best you can.
Don’t use heat or cold to relieve pain in any area treated with radiation unless your doctor says it’s okay.
When should I call my cancer care team?
After each treatment, you’ll probably be very aware of your body and will notice even slight changes.
If you’re concerned by a symptom, or if something just doesn’t feel quite right, please tell your cancer care team straight away.
What side effects might I notice?
You may experience some of the side effects listed below that are specific to the area you had treated, like:
- Pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- New lumps, bumps, or swelling
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, or trouble swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever or cough that doesn’t go away
- Unusual rashes, bruises, or bleeding
- Any other signs or symptoms your cancer care team tells you to watch for
Don’t hesitate to let your team know about any new problems or concerns you have – no matter how minor they may seem.
It’s always best to find out the cause of a problem so it can be dealt with right away.
When can I go back to work?
If you stopped working, you can return to your job as soon as both you and your medical team agree it’s okay to.
Everyone is different, and you might find that you can continue to work during your radiation therapy.
If your job requires heavy lifting or physical activity, you might need to change your routine until you feel back to normal.