You have now completed your pelvic radiotherapy treatment and this page will give you advice on aftercare.
As the radiotherapy treatment has a build-up effect, the side effects that you may have experienced can still continue to develop even once treatment is complete.
Radiotherapy reactions peak around 7-10 days from the last treatment appointment, in which we often say reactions can be seen to get ‘worse before they get better’. It can take from several weeks to a few months for it to settle down and for you to feel back to normal.
You may end your treatment with bowels that are more active than you are used to. There may be some streaks of bright red blood or mucus contained within your bowel motions. This is a normal side effect of radiotherapy and nothing to be worried about. However, any large amounts of bleeding from the back passage or dark red/black blood – please seek help from either your GP, Radiotherapy Department on 01604 523840 or Oncology Emergency Assessment Bay on 01604 523575 if it occurs out of normal working hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
Your bowels may be inflamed and be causing a sensation that you constantly need to move your bowels even when there is no poo to move. You may take simple analgesics, such as paracetamol (whatever you would normally take for a headache) to help keep yourself comfortable while this inflammation calms down.
You may use lopermide (Imodium) tablets to manage your bowel looseness after treatment has finished. These are available from the chemist.
You may find that your ability to hold on to a full bladder decreases, have you may have occasional leakage, increased urinary frequency and increased trips to the toilet during the night. These side effects are relatively common. You may also experience a burning sensation when you pass urine. This is can be radiation related cystitis; however, if it doesn’t settle quickly or you are feeling generally unwell, you should contact your GP for a urine test to rule out a urinary infection.
These side effects are usually temporary and will calm down – this may take several weeks. You may find it reassuring to use a safety pad if you are experiencing leakage or urgency.
If you have been prescribed medication to help manage the radiotherapy related side effects by the radiotherapy department, ensure that you continue to take it after treatment finishes, until the course is completed. If you feel that you need further medication, please contact your GP.
Diet and Hydration
We may have asked you to alter your diet slightly during radiotherapy, once treatment has ended, you can revert to your previous eating habits although make all changes gently so as not to upset your bowels.
It is a good idea to continue to keep hydrated and keep drinking 2 litres of fluids, avoiding caffeine for a few weeks, after your treatment or until the radiotherapy side effects have ceased.
If we have asked you to take laxatives (such as Senna), enemas or charcoal tablets during your treatment – you can stop this after your last treatment is completed. However, for your comfort, it is recommended that you keep your motions soft for the first 7-10 days after treatment ends.
This should ease during your recovery period before you see the consultant; however, the hormone injections can also cause fatigue so this may not subside completely. If you are struggling with fatigue, please discuss it with your consultant at your follow up appointment.
At the end of your course of treatment, a follow up appointment will be arranged. This will normally be around 3-4 months after the radiotherapy has finished and will be with your consultant oncologist.
1 week prior to this appointment, you will need to have a blood test to check your PSA levels. This can be done either at the hospital or at your local surgery.
It is advised that if you have any concerns prior to this appointment, you can contact your GP, Urology Specialist Nurse or the Radiotherapy Department on 01604 523840 (Leave a message and one of the review team will return your call).
Northampton General Hospital operates a smoke-free policy. This means that smoking is not allowed anywhere on the Trust site, this includes all buildings, grounds and car parks.
Leaflets, information, advice and support on giving up smoking and on nicotine replacement therapy are available from the local Stop Smoking helpline on 0845 6013116, the free national helpline on 0300 123 1044, email: email@example.com and pharmacies.
Car parking at Northampton General Hospital is extremely limited and it is essential to arrive early, allowing ample time for parking. You may find it more convenient to be dropped off and collected.
This information can be provided in other languages and formats upon request including Braille, audio cassette and CD. Please contact (01604) 523442 or the Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) on (01604) 545784, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This information was taken from Northampton General Hospital leaflet NGV2193 (Aug 2019).