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Side effects of radiotherapy

Find out about the side effects of external radiotherapy and how to cope with them.

Radiotherapy sometimes causes side effects during the treatment. You may not notice these effects until you have had a couple of weeks of treatment. They start to get better when your treatment ends.

Everyone is different and the side effects vary from person to person. You may not have all of the effects mentioned.

Side effects can include:

Long term side effects

Most side effects gradually go away in the weeks or months after treatment. However some side effects can continue or might start some months or years later.  

There are things you can do to deal with the long term side effects. And you may not have all the effects mentioned. Most of these side effects are rare. Long term side effects can include: 

Some women get a swelling in the arm called lymphoedema after radiotherapy to the armpit, particularly if they have had surgery there too.

Now specialists do not recommend having both surgery and radiotherapy to the armpit because of the increased risk of lymphoedema. But surgery and radiotherapy to the armpit may both be needed if the lymph nodes there contain cancer cells.

Information and help

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