Common Side Effects

The high doses of radiation used to kill cancer cells can also affect healthy cells in the treatment area, resulting in side effects. Please check with your Radiation Oncologist and health care team for more details about your situation. 

The side effects of radiation therapy vary from patient to patient. Most patients have only mild side effects that are easily managed with diet, medicine, and other interventions. In the rare event that side effects become severe, treatment may be put on hold to allow the tissue time to heal before continuing.

There are two main types of side effects: acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). Acute side effects occur during the treatment phase and typically go away a few weeks after treatment has finished. They can include fatigue, skin reactions, and side effects specific to the area being treated. Chronic side effects can occur months to years after radiation therapy has finished. They differ according to the area treated and may be permanent.

During your initial consultation, your Radiation Oncologist will discuss the side effects that you may experience as a result of your treatment. We encourage you to take this information into consideration when making decisions about your treatment.  Talk with your doctor about the risks and how they weigh against the benefits of treatment.

Your radiation therapy team will be monitoring you regularly during and after the treatment course for any side effects. This is your opportunity to ask questions, discuss any side effects that may have developed, and apply any interventions to help relieve your side effects. Your Radiation Oncologist will give you specific instructions on what you can do to help prevent or minimize these side effects.

Cancer Guide