Starting radiotherapy soon, very anxious

I will be starting radiotherapy from 6th September. I have had my scan and tattoos done. I am extremely sensitive to hear and burn very easily. I’m terrified about the side effects on the skin although I’ve been told that I will be given advice about skin care and the creams that could help.
I’m hoping that talking to people here who have been through radiotherapy and knowing about their experiences will help me deal with my anxieties. Thanks in advance xx


I found radiotherapy easy after chemo, you don’t feel anything, I made sure I moisturised my chest and armpit daily and used shower gel that was moisturising with no perfume etc , just a very gentle product, come the 15th treatment it was a bit red and itchy but ok, I also had a water mist spray which helped cool things. Have an arch shaped red mark on my chest still after 9 months but no discomfort. Good luck.


Hi, Sorry to hear that you’re anxious about your treatment. I was too, but found it much better that I imagined. The lying still with my arm up was no problem (even though I had lost a lot of movement in my shoulder at that time). I had 15 sessions over 3 weeks and only got a skin reaction about two weeks’ after I finished. I don’t think you can tell in advance whether you are going to react or not, but the staff were fantastic and I used a moisturising cream that didn’t contain sodium lauryl sulphate. Good luck to you… xxx


I had 5 higher dose sessions over 2 weeks. I was quite anxious as I had left sided treatment and had to hold my breath during the session.
Once treatment begins it’s not scary at all. You don’t feel anything, and the machine does come quite near to you but it doesn’t touch you. I didn’t find it difficult holding my breath either.
I didn’t use any creams during treatment but did use a gentle moisturiser for 2 weeks after.
I had no side effects at all, and the staff were brilliant. I hope it all goes well for you, best wishes

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Hi understandable that you are anxious but the actual RT doesn’t hurt - it’s a bit strange & noisy as the machine moves but the staff were lovely and reassuring.
I had 5 straight days of RT and my nipple was quite pink & very sensitive for a while after.
I would suggest you start using a cream now - I used Aveeno twice a day but don’t put it on close to your RT time but do it straight after. Someone suggested that you put it in the fridge so it’s cool !
I hope your treatment goes well


Dear Shars,

I would like to wish you well, with your radiotherapy I was very apprehensive about having treatment and almost refused it, but I have to say as all the others ladies have it was much easier than expected.

You are going to be fine, the nurse are so kind and understanding. keep drinking water and using when ever cream is recommended by the team who are treating you.

Biggest hugs Tili :pray::rainbow::pray::rainbow:


I also had 5 straight days of radiotherapy. My skin went dark in places especially my nipple. After a few months it was all back to normal. I used E45 lotion every day for a while and didn’t get much soreness. The nurses are lovely and will put you at ease. Each session is much quicker then you expect. Just make sure you get lots of rest if you feel tired which hit me about a week after I had finished my treatment. Good luck with everything


I was also very anxious about the side effects and almost refused it. In the end, I used some protective aloe vera gel and the thickening effects on my skin were absolutely temporary, whereas there is still a small amount of swelling to the breast tissue two years on - not really visible under clothing. Also I was so anxious about the toxicity that i drank too much water and became overhydrated so do not overdo the water. RT can be presented as something very frightening and dangerous and I found the first session of the five pretty terrible and I felt very disorientated afterwards, but all the rest went smoothly and felt very much easier. Wish you all the very best and hope it goes as well as possible.

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I went through 5 sessions of radiotherapy. Mine was last Thursday Friday in July and the first Monday Tuesday Wednesday in August. I found it very easy as you don’t do anything except life on the bed on the machine. The nurses make sure you are in the correct position and after about 5 minutes your finished. I found the creams very helpful and after all they don’t give you them for nothing. I must admit my boob did feel hot and itchy. I also felt tired after my sessions had finished but then I had to travel 170 round trip for the Thursday and Friday. But I booked a wee cottage for the Monday-Wednesday as I found traveling to much. The hospital would put me up in hotel near by for bed and breakfast but I didn’t fancy that and preferred cottage with hubby and treated it as a wee break.
Hope all goes well :heart::heart:


Ive had 3 of 10 sessions and was very anxious beforehand

Im using aloe vera moisturiser during the day 3 or 4 times all over boob, armpit and up to neck and Tropic moisturiser overnight ( vegan and no parabens)

Yesterday i put a wet flannel in the fridge and used it throughout the day as boob was warm and surgery scar itchy, it cooled me down

So far all good but know to keep doing this regime for a few months

Got a headache probably from not stretching my neck and shoulders enough after lying in positions too long but all ok

Radiographers are wonderful, kind and will answer any questions so ask away

They had to lift my breast upwards Yesterday halfway through as its large and had flopped out of position!!

Good luck


Hi Shar,
I was the same and like Shell and some others here I had 5 high dose sessions one after the other over 5 days as part of a research trial and was fine, no pain or burn but I did take with me a cold pack to put over the area on my left breast and arm pit and used a mild calendula moisturizer. Only side effect years later was fibrosis but I’ve had to have a mastectomy recently as my cancer returned. Radiotherapy is certainly not anything to worry about. Good luck with your recovery. :two_hearts::four_leaf_clover:

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Hello, I have just had my last but one treatment Last one tomorrow. I have had no problems skin wise yet. They advised me to use something like Cetriban or Aveeno and I used a moisturising Aveeno body wash too. I have been very tired though and spent a few afternoons asleep on the sofa. The actual treatment is not so bad as it does not last very long. Holding your breath is not a big issue as the machine stops and starts if you move. I did not like being exposed but that’s just me, never one to go topless!!!
I hope you get on ok and do not get to much skin damage, the radiographer did check me and said she could prescribe creams if necessary

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Hi, I had five weeks of radiotherapy, the fifth week the intense treatment. As others have mentioned the nurses will advise what you can use but I found Aveeno shower gel and creams were good. I did get quite tender and found putting muslin instead my bra helped. Good luck!


Just to reiterate all the reassuring things the other ladies have said, I was very apprehensive about radiotherapy too but the technicians were lovely and very supportive so try not to worry about it too much. Once you have started it, it will all just fall into place. I too have very sensitive skin and had an issue with redness of the breast at the end of my 3-week course but the radiographer sorted out an appointment with the radiotherapist after my session and I was prescribed some steroid cream which helped. I’ve had no long-term side-effects (and this was 9 years ago!). I did feel very tired as the sessions progressed but was lucky enough to have a very supportive husband who drove me on the 2-hour round trip for the whole of the treatment. Ask for help if you need it - don’t try and soldier on if you can’t manage. If you don’t have close family, the Big C centres are always ready to help with any problems. Good luck xxx


My tips - moisturise moisturise moisturise!
I used E45 moisurising cream.
Take a small towel to lie on - that bed is a bit cold!
It’s a big machine and makes weird noises, and when it moves you think it’s going to touch you but it won’t :+1:
Have a subject in mind to think about whilst you’re lying there to take your mind off it.
Relax! Don’t tense up. You’ll be fine.
Did I mention moisurising? :blush:
I had no reaction at all, only slight darkening of the area which faded in about 6 months.


I had 20 sessions with minimum burning. I used all the creams that were given to me. One product I bought for my dry nipple, ,from Amazon, is “earth mama organic nipple butter”. So soothing! I started to get an itchy rash and I was given a prescription strength cortisone cream. In 48 hours, no more itching. My hospital plays pop music in the radiation room and it was nice. BTW- I still use that nipple butter, but on my lips because it is so moist!

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Its now almost 5 weeks since I finished my 5 day course of radiotherapy (left chest wall). The main noticeable short term side-effects that remain now are:

  1. Mild darkening of skin tone, similar to when tanned under the sun. I used the flamigel moisturiser (used to limit/prevent radiotherapy related skin reactions) tubes given to me by the radiographers when I went in for my first & last RT sessions. I have sensitive skin, so was a bit apprehensive before RT, but didn’t really have any adverse skin reaction after the first week and even that reaction was a sensation of my skin stinging intermittently, particularly along the scar line. I wore a soft bamboo cotton bralette.
  2. Tightening of left arm movement (I had a mastectomy followed by axillary dissection surgery before my radiotherapy.). So I have been doing my arm stretching exercises morning and evening. I never really stopped them after surgery and don’t think I will stop that routine for the foreseeable future as my physiotherapist said that with continued use of the arm along with the targeted stretches the tightness will reduce and become unnoticeable, but that it will/can take time.

These are steps I followed:

  1. Hydrate - Drink 2 litres of water daily. For me this has become the norm now.
  2. Moisturise - Moisturise twice a day (morning & evening) using the moisturiser given by the radiographers at the treatment centre. I applied a lot more that I would normally do. I switched back to my regular moisturiser (Aveeno) & started scar tissue massage 3 weeks after RT finished. Scar tissue massage is to help reduce the skin tightening sensation & arm movement.
  3. Didn’t use any soap/bodywash on the skin area (chest wall & underarm) to avoid a possible skin reaction. I just washed that area with water, even though the treatment centre provided a list of acceptable body wash/antiperspirants. I restarted 3 weeks after RT.
  4. Eat well.
  5. Rest if you need to. Other than feeling slightly more fatigued & napping in the afternoons 2 weeks after RT ended, I haven’t felt significantly more fatigued that before RT.

I was also a bit anxious about the DIBH breath hold due to left side RT, but that was quite easy in the end, and the staff (radiographers) were kind and patient giving all the time I needed to answer any questions before the first session and also asking me how I was feeling prior to each subsequent session. After the first session you kind of get into the rhythm of things, the sessions are very quick.

Wishing you well with your RT. xx


I can only agree with what everyone else had said - the staff are wonderful and will advise on any problems - just ask!

The machines look pretty fearsome, but what helped me was a talk and visit by the Radiotherapy Department before I started. We started at Maggies where 2 radiographers came and explained how it will happen and why and about the side-effects and then we went off to the department where a Medical Physicist explained about how the machines work and how they are programmed just for you and then we went and looked at a real machine

I had 15 doses, I got a little hot and itchy at times - Aveeno was recommended by my hospital (after, not before the session!). Also Aloe Vera Gel which you can keep in the fridge. I got tired at times. Only wore soft crop tops (bras were still a bit of a no-no as they irritated my scars)

There was a radio in the room playing nice music and you get chatted to by the staff if they need you to hold your breath. T

At the end I was told to get hydrocortisone cream as the itchiness would increase later and that sorted that out.

The fun fact is that my Blue boob had gone by the end of the treatment!!


You might be fine. I didn’t burn afer 20 sessions. I did use aloe vera from holland and barretts i think it was a gel/ cream xx


Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I feel a lot reassured.

My radiotherapy starts on 6th Sept and is for five days of accelerated dose. I had a full mastectomy with no reconstruction. I didn’t opt for reconstruction mainly because I was worried about the side effects radiotherapy could cause. It might seem weird but of all the things including my initial diagnosis, it’s radiotherapy that’s making me the most anxious!

I’m so grateful for each one of you who took time to reassure me. I’m definitely in a better place now, I feel less anxious. Thank you so much! xx