Wait between surgery and radiotherapy

Hi I had my lumpectomy etc on 25 August. When I saw the onocology dr almost 4 weeks later she didn’t think I was sufficiently healed to go straight onto my course of radiotherapy treatment. The wound is now a lot better and as I hadn’t heard anything I got in touch with the hospital to find out when my rads would begin. Apparently the schedule they had sent me got lost in the post, however I now have another copy and the planning mgting is 21 Oct and the rads start on 3 -24 November. Iam now worrying that this is quite a gap between op and rads and those pesky cells could be lurking around causing further mischief. Has this happened to anyone else?
Also I am feeling a bit guilty because I am not at work as my GP signed me off until the 1st Nov thinking the rads would start in Oct. I did not expect to work whilst having the rad treatment as it involves a fair amount of travel. I feel ok in myself although I do get v tired, for example ventured out on the bus today to get my flu jab done and was more than happy to come home after and hour and a half. Has anyone been back to work between the two treatments or maybe I should just say to myself I go back after it is all sorted. I normally work every day, though only mornings, in quite a high pressured job in the health service.

Chris x

hi Chris, I had my operation on 4th June, second one on 24th June, had major problems with wound and didnt start rads until 14th September, so you should be ok.

take care

Carol x

Thanks Carol thats reassuring. :slight_smile:

Hi Chris
Dont worry. My rad started 9 weeks after surgery. My wound was not healed so radiotherapy was delayed. Anyway I am now 8 weeks post radiotherapy. It all went well but my wound is still not healed. I developed radiotherapy burns 5 weeks post rad as well. I too work for the nhs and am just coming up to being off for 6months. (I thought I’d be back by now). You are not expected to go back to work until you are well. That means mentally on the ball too which you cannot possibly be whilst waiting for raditherapy.
I advise crystal Roc deoderant, aqueas cream to your affected breast and do rad like a job. Go prepared. Dont get annoyed if you have to wait. Take ipod,2 books,games anything to distract your mind and dont talk to anyone who is negative.
The waiting is hard. Arrange lunches and most of all stay positive. We are the lucky ones.

Hi Chris

I had my first op on All Fools day!! and the second on 21st April. I don’t start radiation treatment until 30th Nov but am having the dreaded Chemo in between. I’m actually looking forward to it because it signifies (to me) the final step to the rest of my life and NOTHING can be worse than Chemo!!!

Good Luck


The wait in Brighton is 8-10 weeks… I chose to travel a bit further to get it done sooner. That was more just to get it over with though - can’t stand waiting around, though I searched a load but couldn’t find much information about how delaying affects response/effectiveness etc.

I think like almost everything else involved in cancer treatment, they just don’t know.

Hi Chris,

I was 11 weeks between surgery and radiotherapy and I was working between the two. Actually I worked through radiotherapy, doing three quarter time, managing to get most of my appointments for the end of the day and fitting meetings around this. That worked for me because the journey to hospital from work was only about an hour, but it was an extra half hour if I went from home. I did do some days working from home. By the end of rads I was pretty tired and then had a week off work followed by a week of short days.

I think you need to listen to your body and if you are too tired to work then don’t feel guilty about not being there. Easier said than done, of course!

Eliza xx

Don’t worry about not working between treatments. If your wound hasn’t healed properly that is reason enough not to go back to work. Imagine what rushing around would do! I didn’t return to work between treatments - wasn’t my choice but my boss’s who felt that I had been through enough without rushing back into work.

It isn’t like you have a bad cold and are milking it - you have had cancer and emotionally and physically that is very draining. Take care of yourself.

Hi, for what its worth, i worked postsurgery for a few weeks, then took 4 weeks annual leave in the summer and went back to work part-time while having rads. For me going back to work and getting on with my normal life kept me sane. Otherwise I would have been kicking around the house, getting worried and spending far too much time on sites like this one. I got tired by the evening but was fine at work, and people at work were SO nice. Yes trust your body, but if you have not been through chemo, you’ll be in better shape to get through it.

I still don’t have definite dates for radiotherapy, but today they said I am very provisionally booked to start on 15th December, and will keep having breaks over Christmas and New Year. It will be 12 weeks after my surgery and I find that extremely worrying. The NICE guidelines are for 4 weeks, ideally.

I am sure it varies in different parts of the country. The hospital said they are extremely busy at present. What is annoying is that I was told there is a local BUPA hospital which could do it sooner. Wouldn’t it be nice if the NHS would pay to use their facilities when they cannot cope?

Has anyone else had to wait that long, for no reason other than the NHS waiting list?

I am thinking of ringing my BCN to ask her to ask my surgeon whether he has concerns about me having to wait at least 12 weeks for rads from the time of my surgery. If so, I would like to know how much it would be to have it done privately. Does anyone know? My life is precious, even if the NHS purseholders don’t think so!

Ann x

Love Ann x

Hi ladies. The gap between my surgery (WLE) and rads was 6 weeks. I didnt have chemo. I really wanted to wait longer as our local oncology centre was due to open this summer, but they wouldnt have been able to fit me in until 4 months after surgery, and they said you’re meant to have rads within 12 weeks of surgery… well that’s what they told me but i guess that’s because i didnt have chemo in between? Unless they were just telling me that so I just got on with it! Instead I had to go to another hospital a lot further away, which turned out OK in the end, it wasnt such an ordeal as I thought it would be.

I didnt return to work until 6 weeks after rads had finished because I was hellishly tired post rads and the emotional effects of cancer had just caught up with me. I am still working part-time, to gradually phase me back into full time work, which will be in 3 week’s time, but I am struggling. My mind is on other things and I cant concentrate when Im at my desk. I have my 3 monthly follow up appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday and I am really not sure what to expect. Plus I have further breast screening on Thursday as I have got myself all worked up, worrying about my other breast. I have been doing my job for 20 years and have to ask my colleagues the most basic Noddy questions because I have so little concentration and have lost a bit of confidence in making decisions. I guess this is normal? Work just isnt important and I could quite easily just walk out of there and never go back… I wish I could afford to!

My advice to those kept waiting for rads is don’t worry because I am sure they wouldnt put anyone’s lives at risk because of long waiting times. Cancer is a serious disease which I am sure the professionals dont take lightly. And try not to worry about returning to work. You have to think of your health, physical and emotional and you should only return to work when you feel ready.


I am not so sure about them not risking our lives. The impression I got was that there is a long waiting list, because they are particularly busy at present - tough, that’s how it is!

I have read studies which show that the longer the wait, the more chance of recurrence. I am really worried, as my Mum had bc which had already spread to her bones when diagnosed.

Ann x

hi im going to get my results wed and to c if i have to have rads but i think the waiting time here is between 8 to 10 wks so i do think its just the nhs waiting time i will let u no wed what im told

I’m sorry Ann, I was just trying to remain positive. I have to see the oncologist in an hour, so I’d better get a move on! I do hope everything turns out alright for you :slight_smile:


Yes, I know you were trying to be positive and you are probably right. It is just that we/they don’t know and never will.

I saw a locum onc yesterday (Spanish) and he was trying to reassure me that, in my case, there is no need to worry that the rads are late. I hope he is right.

How did you get on?

Ann x