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Testicular cancer radiotherapy side effects

Men and woman discussing testicular cancer

This page is about possible side effects of radiotherapy for testicular cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Testicular cancer radiotherapy side effects

Radiotherapy causes tiredness and sometimes skin reddening in the area being treated. Tiredness will start during your course of treatment. It will continue for a week or so after your treatment has finished and then gradually get better. The skin in the treatment area may become red and sore (a bit like mild sunburn) but this is uncommon. 

Most men with testicular cancer having radiotherapy will have their abdomen treated. This can cause sickness and diarrhoea. These side effects are usually mild if they occur.

Sickness

You can have tablets to treat or prevent sickness. If you feel sick, tell your radiotherapy doctor or nurse or your radiographer. You should also tell them if you still have sickness, despite the tablets. You can then try another type of anti sickness tablet.

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be reduced or stopped with medicine to slow down your bowel. If you are having frequent diarrhoea, it is important to drink plenty of fluids.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating testicular cancer section.

 

 

Tiredness

Radiotherapy causes tiredness, and hair loss in the treatment area. Tiredness will start during your course of treatment. It will continue for a week or so after your treatment has finished and will then gradually get better.

 

Sore skin

In some men, the skin in the treatment area can become red and sore, a bit like mild sunburn. But this is not usually too bad with radiotherapy for testicular cancer, particularly if you only need radiotherapy for 2 weeks.

 

Side effects of abdominal radiotherapy

Most men with testicular cancer having radiotherapy will have their abdomen treated. This can cause 

These side effects are usually mild. You may not have them at all.

 

Sickness

Sickness can be treated or prevented with tablets. If you feel sick, tell your doctor, radiographer or radiotherapy nurse. Your doctor can give you anti sickness tablets to take every day before your treatment. Tell them if you still have sickness, despite the tablets. You can try another type of anti sickness tablet. Some work better for some people than others.

If you don't feel like eating, you could try a high calorie food supplement drink. You can get these at most chemists. Or your doctor can prescribe them. If you are having real problems with your diet, ask to see a dietician at the hospital where you have treatment.

 

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be helped with medicine to slow down your bowel. Eating a low fibre diet may help. Your radiotherapy department may have leaflets to help you with this. You cut out

  • Whole grain cereals
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Bran
  • Dried fruit
  • Cabbage

Cut down on

  • Fruit juice
  • Fresh fruit
  • Other vegetables

You can eat bananas as they may actually help. You can go back to your healthy diet after the treatment is over. If you are having frequent diarrhoea, it is important to drink plenty of fluids.

 

Other side effects

External radiotherapy does not make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with children and pregnant women during your treatment. Other radiotherapy side effects vary depending on the part of the body being treated. There is general information about side effects in our main section about radiotherapy.

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Updated: 22 February 2013