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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

"During my radiotherapy I became very emotional. I'd start crying for no reason." This is how one woman reacted.

Other people say they feel low or depressed a couple of weeks after their treatment has finished. It is very common to feel anxious and depressed during treatment. Many people having radiotherapy share these feelings. 

You may have a whole range of feelings,from anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and anger to depression. These feelings are all common during treatment for cancer. Radiotherapy can make you tired and this can make it feel even harder to cope.

After treatment, you may feel that you have lost your support network at the hospital and can feel very lonely.


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 are books about the emotional effects of living with cancer, some of which are free. Look at our general cancer reading list.

The coping with cancer section may give you ideas about coming to terms with your cancer, the treatments, and possible side effects. Also, you can find out about the cancer organisations that can help you. 

You can join Cancer Chat – a discussion forum run by Cancer Research UK where you can talk to other people affected by cancer, share your experiences, and find information and support.

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Updated: 4 July 2012