Side-effects from radiotherapy to the chest area

Older woman concerned at pain in her chest

Difficulty in swallowing and weight loss

With radiotherapy to your lung or oesophagus (food pipe), you may find it hard to swallow solid foods. You may also lose weight as a result. It may help to have a soft, plain diet for a while. If swallowing is very uncomfortable your doctor may prescribe painkillers or liquid medicines or antacids. After about 5 to 8 weeks the discomfort usually disappears. Tips on coping with eating problems and weight loss.

Cough and shortness of breath

You may notice that you develop a dry or mucus-type cough and some shortness of breath with radiotherapy to your lung or oesophagus. 

Sometimes this side-effect may not appear until several months after your treatment. If it happens, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible. It is important to report any changes in your breathing at any time during and after your treatment. Read more about breathlessness.

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