Managing the side-effects of cancer treatment

Even after you have finished treatment for cancer you may still experience side-effects. This is quite normal. Some of these may disappear quite quickly after treatment. Other side-effects may last for months or years. There are ways to improve and manage these symptoms and side-effects. 
 
The web pages in this section will give you information, support and tips to help you deal with some common side-effects you may have after your treatment has finished.  Keep a track of any symptoms you have and report them to your nurse specialist, GP or hospital consultant.

Tip: Know the name and phone number of your nurse specialist, such as your oncology nurse or breast care nurse. Your nurse specialist can advise you about any side-effects you may be having.

Use this information in whatever way works best for you. You can read it from beginning to end. Or you can just refer to the sections you need.
 
If you do not understand something that has been written or if you have any questions, you can speak in confidence with a specialist nurse by calling the Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 or visit a Daffodil Centre. The nurses can give you information, support, advice and details of helpful services in your area.
 
Find out more about other sources of cancer support.

How long will the side-effects of treatment last?

Many cancer survivors experience side-effects after their treatment has ended. Side-effects after cancer treatment can vary depending on the cancer type and the person. Treatment affects people differently.
 
Some people have a number of side-effects while others have none. Most side-effects disappear soon after treatment has ended.
 
Other side-effects may last for some time or even be permanent. Sometimes side-effects from treatment can develop months or years after you have finished treatment. 

I’m worried that my side-effects mean the cancer has come back

It’s normal to worry that side-effects may be a sign that your cancer has come back. This can be very distressing. Speak to your doctor if you are worried, but remember that side-effects like fatigue and pain after cancer treatment are very common and usually improve with time.

Always see your doctor if:
  • You feel that you cannot cope well with your side-effects.
  • Your side-effects do not improve over time.
  • Your side-effects get worse.
  • You develop a new symptom that you are worried about.
You might also find it useful to read our section on coping with feelings after cancer. 

What can I do to improve my side-effects?

If you do find you are experiencing side-effects after your treatment has ended the most important thing is to seek help and support. Most symptoms from cancer treatment can be helped by medication or changes to your lifestyle.

Sometimes when you are no longer attending hospital as often it can feel more difficult to get medical advice and other support, but help is available.

What are the common side-effects after cancer treatment?

Some side-effects that you may experience after cancer treatment are:
Date Last Reviewed: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Date Last Revised: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2015