Emotional effects of radiotherapy | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Emotional effects of radiotherapy

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about the feelings and emotions you may have during or after radiotherapy treatment. There is information about


Feelings and emotions you may have

It is common to feel very tired and upset during radiotherapy. Or you may feel anxious and depressed during the treatment. Many people having radiotherapy share these feelings.

One woman told us

"During my radiotherapy I became very emotional. I'd start crying for no reason."

Many people say that they feel very low or depressed a couple of weeks after their treatment has finished. The side effects may be at their highest level and it is common to feel extremely tired. You might also feel that you have lost your support network at the hospital if your next follow up appointment is a few weeks away. This may make you feel very lonely.

You may have a whole range of feelings, from anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and anger to depression. These feelings are all common during and after treatment for cancer. The tiredness that radiotherapy causes can make it feel even harder to cope.


Where to get help

Having treatment for cancer can be very upsetting. We all have our own ways of managing difficulties. Some people have a close network of family and friends to support them. Others would rather get help from people who aren't involved in their illness. 

There is a lot of help available if you need it. You can ask at your treatment hospital about the help in your area. There may be local support groups for people having treatment for the same type of cancer. The hospital may provide counselling or your GP can refer you to a local counsellor.


More information about radiotherapy

Find out about


Books about coping with treatment

Coping with cancer

Helpful cancer organisations

For general information and support 

Contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 (Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Share experiences on our online forum – Cancer Chat

Rate this page:
Submit rating


Rated 5 out of 5 based on 32 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 14 March 2016