Life Beyond Treatment
Once your course of radiation therapy concludes, your radiation oncologist may want to re-examine you at least once to check the results of your treatment. More importantly, the doctor who referred you for radiation therapy will schedule follow-up visits as needed. Follow-up care, in addition to checking the results of your treatment, may also include more cancer treatment, rehabilitation, and/or counseling. MRO can help you arrange all of your follow-up needs.
MRO strives to assist you in readapting to your life after treatment. Taking good care of yourself is a critical part of follow-up, and we are here to give you the tools to do this.
Who provides care after therapy?
After your radiation treatments end, you will receive ongoing follow-up from your referring doctor, who may be a surgeon, a medical oncologist, or your primary physician. You may also return to your radiation oncologist for regular follow-up visits. Your follow-up care will depend on the kind of cancer you have and on other treatments you had or may need.
What other care might be needed after radiation therapy ends?
Just as every patient is different, follow-up care varies. Your doctor will prescribe and schedule your follow-up care. Do not hesitate to ask about the tests or treatments your doctor orders. We will help you learn everything you can to take good care of yourself.
What if pain is a problem?
Pain may persist after radiation therapy ends. Do not use a heating pad or warm compress to relieve pain in any area treated with radiation. Mild pain medicine may work for you.
If you have severe pain, ask your doctor about prescription medications or other methods of relief. Be specific when describing your pain so you can get the best treatment for it.
If you still cannot find relief from your pain, you may be referred to a doctor who is a pain specialist.
How can I help myself after radiation therapy?
After radiation therapy ends, you will still need to take special care of yourself. It is normal to need extra rest even after treatment concludes. This means your healthy tissues are rebuilding. Take naps as needed and try to get more sleep at night. Work back into your pre-treatment schedule of activities by reintroducing them into your life a little at a time.
Skin problems may persist for several weeks after treatment ends. Continue to be gentle with your skin in the treatment area until all signs of irritation are gone. Do not try to scrub off the marks in your treatment area.
What about returning to work?
Many people continue to work during radiation therapy. However, if you have taken time off or have altered your work activities due to treatment, you can discuss with your doctor when you would be expected to be able to return to work.
When you are ready to return to work, it is important to learn about your rights concerning job and health insurance. If you have any questions about employment issues, contact the Cancer Information Service or the American Cancer Society. They can help you find local agencies that respond to problems cancer survivors sometimes face regarding employment and insurance rights.
When should I call the doctor?
After treatment for cancer, you are likely to be more aware of your body and to notice even slight changes in how you feel from day to day. The doctor will want you to report any unusual symptoms.
Tell your doctor at once if you exhibit any of these problems:
- A pain that does not go away, especially if it is always in the same place.
- Lumps, bumps, or swelling.
- Ongoing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- A fever or cough that does not go away.
- Unusual rashes, bruises, or bleeding.
- Any other signs mentioned by your doctor or nurse.