Due to start radiotherapy


i am due to start radiotherapy, so I have come on here to have a read of other people’s stories and  experiences. 


Why do you have to hold your breathe? Is it just once each treatment? 


Thanks xxx

Hi Saz,


Radiotherapy is generally ok, you might find you get some fatigue as the sessions go on and you should use the creams the radio team provide (or 100% aloe vera with no additives) . If you do start getting any skin soreness (a bit like sunburn sensations) let the team know since it may be that they can provide a different skin cream.


Re breathing, do what the radio team say. It helps to keep as still as possible since the radiobeams are directed at the breast and/or arm pit areas where your bc was. If you breathe deeply your chest will move upwards and outwards, meaning that part of your lungs, or heart if its your left side, get a slight zap moving into the radio beam. Hence why it’s best to breathe gentle shallow breathes, and stay very still. I focused my eyes on a dot on the ceiling to help me focus on staying still! 


I’m aware the NHS did some trials of a system where you do actively hold your breathe for a very short time, and they give small repeated bursts of radio, however I don’t think that has become standard practice.         


Don’t wear any deodorant containing metals (apparently they reflect the radio beams around), only ones on the list they should have provided you with.  Keep your skin covered from the sun and if you find yourself getting sore you might want to chop up an old soft cotton T-shirt and use it as a layer between your bra and your skin to get air to your skin and reduce any friction rub.


I hope it goes well. Be kind to yourself and take one day at a time. The sessions will fly by soon enough.

Post if you have any skin complications or need any support.  



I started radiotherapy on Thursday. Mine is on the left side. I have to hold my breath for approximately 20 seconds about 4 times during the session. The radiotherapy team talk you through it and tell you when to hold and when you can breath normally. They also tell you if you have not taken a deep enough breath or  vice versa. I was told yesterday to let out a tiny bit as I had taken too deep a breath. When you have your planning session they will tell you if you need to hold your breath and will do a few practice runs with you

Hi saz


It seems to vary from hospital to hospital. My hospital is a regional Centre of Excellence and I had 15 sessions to my left chest and my collarbone. I never had to hold my breath, just keep still (not easy when you get an itchy nose or they’re playing music you usually dance along to). It’s a quick and painless process but the effects sometimes come in the weeks after you’ve finished so it’s essential not to give up on your skincare regime and exercises to keep the breast muscle supple and the skin soft. As regards skin products and care, go by what your team advises as we all seem to get different messages. I was advised to moisturise in the morning before and after a session, as well as at night - others are advised not to moisturise before. Your radiotherapist’s advice may be related to your skin type or the nature of your scar so they know best.


Hope it’s going well. The worst bit is the daily commitment!