What to Expect after Radiation Treatment

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Date: August 2011

When I came back from my follow-up care, that was about a month or so later, by that time I had, for the most part, completely healed from the radiation side effects.  They told me, you know, I have fully recovered from the radiation, I was healing very well and, I mean, you know, everything looked great.

Follow-up care, after your radiation therapy is complete, you will have a series of appointments with your doctor.  The doctor will check on any treatment related side effects and look for signs of recurring cancer.  You will also see the radiation oncologist at a follow up appointment so he or she can coordinate your follow up care with your doctor.  Follow-up care might include more cancer treatment, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation or counseling.  Call you doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.  A pain that doesn't go away.  Any new or unusual bumps, lumps or swelling.  Nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, sudden unexplained weight loss, a fever or cough that doesn't go away, unusual rashes, bruises or bleeding.  When you visit the doctor, make a list of all your questions.  Take a friend or family member along.  They not only give you moral support but act as another pair of ears to help you remember what the doctor says.  Take notes.  Ask about any words or terms that you don't understand.  Coping with emotions, give yourself plenty of alone time to rest and think.  Let family or friends help you.  Find spiritual guidance through prayer or meditation or talk to your minister, rabbi, or other religious leader.  Express your feelings by talking, keeping a diary or even draw a picture.  Take walks or exercise with your doctor's consent.  Find support groups or other cancer patients and families to learn new ways to cope and to talk about treatment.  Take special care of yourself by getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet.  Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about help.


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