At the end of a course of radiotherapy, many patients have side effects from treatment. If you have not already done so, please discuss with your treatment radiographers any side effects you feel are caused by your radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy continues to have an effect on you for some time after you have finished your course, and some side effects may get a little worse during the week after treatment is completed. The time taken for side effects to wear off varies from one person to another.
Your radiographers will be able to give you a general idea of what to expect, but we can’t predict exactly how long it will take for side effects to disappear completely. At the end of this leaflet is a list of telephone numbers you can use to contact the department if you are worried about continuing side effects.
It is helpful if you telephone either the specialist radiographer or the treatment machine where you had most of your treatments. Below are general guidelines we recommend you follow.
- Continue to drink plenty of liquid, and if you are having diarrhoea or loose stools, do not eat too much fibre (roughage) until things settle down.
- We recommend that you do not drink spirits unless well diluted, or eat highly spicy food such as curry for at least two to three weeks after treatment is completed.
- If you have been following a low fibre diet during your treatment this can be relaxed at the end of treatment. Gradually increase the amount or fibre you eat until you are once again eating what is normal for you.
- If you have been taking medication for either constipation or diarrhoea you will need to gradually reduce this as your bowels return to normal as side effects wear off. If you are unsure about this, ask one of your treatment team for advice.
- If you currently have to get up a lot at night to pass water this may take a few days or weeks to settle down. If you were getting up a lot at night before the radiotherapy started, even after side effects have worn off you may still need to get up to empty your bladder several times a night.
- Unless you are experiencing skin problems you should be able to resume using your normal soap and using bath oils if you want to the day after radiotherapy. If you have any queries about skin care, ask your radiographers for advice. If you are taking medication to help with side effects, make sure you know how long you should continue to use it before you leave the department on the last day of treatment.
- If you need repeat prescriptions after you have finished treatment, these should be available from your GP.
- Depending upon individual patient need, some prostate patients continue to have hormone injections or tablets for a number of months or years while others will stop hormone treatment at the end of radiotherapy.
- This should have been discussed with you in clinic before and/or during radiotherapy. If you are unsure how long you need to have the hormone treatment, please check with your treatment team before the end of your course of treatment.
- Even after you have stopped the hormone treatment, it can take several months for your hormone balance to return to normal, so side effects from tablets or injections will take some time to wear off.
- A number of weeks after the final treatment you will see your Oncology doctor or radiographer for a check up in your local hospital. You may already have an appointment for this; if not it will be sent to you through the post.
- If you have not received an appointment 6 weeks after treatment is completed, telephone your local hospital and ask to speak to your oncology consultant’s secretary and she should be able to help you. If you cannot remember the name of your consultant, or you are unsure where you should be going for a check up, your GP surgery should be able to advise you.
- Some hospitals give prostate patients a blood form for a PSA test to be done at your GP or local hospital before you return to clinic; others will do the PSA test when you go to the clinic for your check up.
- If you have been given a form and lost it, or are unsure if you ever had one do not worry about it - the hospital will take a test when you go, and will either write to you with the result, or tell you at your next clinic appointment.
- If you do have a form, please have the blood test done at your GP surgery or local hospital 1-2 weeks before you go to the clinic for your check up.
And finally - if you would like to make any comments about your treatment, or feel we can improve the service to patients, please fill in a comment card which can be found in a box on the wall close to radiotherapy reception desk.
Non-urgent advice: Contact telephone numbers
- Andrew Styling - Specialist radiographer
Privacy and dignity
Same sex bays and bathrooms are offered in all wards except critical care and theatre recovery areas where the use of high-tech equipment and/or specialist one to one care is required.
We are smoke-free
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.
Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/
Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151