What Side Effects to Expect - and When?

I’m driving myself nuts with worrying about what the side effects of radiotherapy are likely to be and when they will start to appear. I’ve done 9 out of 15 sessions and so far I’m feeling fine, which makes me worry even more that it will suddenly hit me out of the blue.

Please can you offer feedback on what you went through? There must be others reading these forums who would also like to know.

Sarah x

I had 15 sessions of rads back in June and felt fine throughout, just a bit tired towards the end but that could have been the travelling. About 2 weeks after finishing my skin became itchy and red and eventually peeled like sunburn. Put loads of aqueous cream on and had to get hydrocortisone from GP but it cleared up and wasn’t too bad. Not everyone gets side effects remember, just look after your skin and am sure you’ll be fine
Good luck xx

I have had 10 RADS so far, out of 15 and like you feeling ok - my armpit is a bit ‘tight’ but nothing to worry about and my skin is holding up.

I was told to put lots of cream on which i have - i also bought some Aloe Vera today too. Let the air get to the area ie don’t wear tight fitting clothes I have even kept my bra off when I can so its not rubbing at all.

Exercies are also important to make sure that you keep movement.

I think if the skin starts to blister it can get very sore and infected and will need dressings. if this happens they will tell you what to do at the hospital as they keep an eye on you too.

I don’t think there is anything else to come ‘over the hill’ as it were but I think the skin can continue to be sore up to two to three weeks after. They told me I would feel tierd - I suppose I do but nothing out of the ordinary as since I have been on TAX I have felt tierd all the time anyway - so nothing new there…

good luck and hope it goes ok xx

I finished rads just over two weeks ago. I had 15 and pleased to report no bad side effects. I did feel tired towards the end but I think that was as much to do with the travelling each day as anything else ( I had over an hour journey each way).
A couple of days after finishing I had a small patch of itchy skin but the GP gave me some hydrocortisone cream that sorted that out. I hardly had any change of skin colour and no break down/blistering etc. Guess I was lucky. Hope that you will be too. x

Thanks so much for the info from you all, it sounds like there’s a good chance of no really bad side effects, although it’s early days for me yet. Anyone else out there had the IMRT (Intensity Modulated)version of the radiotherapy? Apparently that’s what I’m getting but I only found out after I’d already been receiving it for one week.
Sarah x

Hi Cheshire Cheese not heard of this.Had 15 rads plus 3 boosters to tumour site.Finished last week Was on fairly aggressive a-bs for an unrelated abscess at the time but felt that the rads were OK despite the travelling and a-bs. Now have pink areas but skin intact still slopping on the aqueous cream and take off my bra and wear a thin cotton camisole at every opportunity. Not too difficult as surgery on abscess has me more grounded than every other BC treatment so far.Keep smoothing on the cream or if you have broken skin get help.Sometimes if we have no s/es the worst might be thought. If you are OK so far don’t fret.Jackie

I too finished rads just over two weeks ago. My skin did go a bit pink and felt tight towards the end (I had 15 sessions) but I just kept putting on the cream and it is fine now. I did feel tired but again I think that was the travelling as I have felt ok since. I have been told this week though that the tiredness can start to effect you at any time up to 6 weeks after you have finished, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Good luck and hope things go well for you for the rest of the sessions.

Beverley xx

I had 15 sessions in June this year and no side effects. I put on the aqueous cream every day and night and still use it now and again. I did have like a suntan where they did the radiotherapy but I don’t care - it was a million times easier than chemo.

I had just the same experience as mnc. No burning , no particular tiredness: the radiotherapists were really kind and the appointments were always on time. in every way, a complete contrast to my chemotherapy sessions.

I had 13 sessions with minimal issues. I faithfully followed the advice applying aqueous cream several times a day, never wore a bra and kept well hydrated. Like mnc I had a clear suntan line and peeled several times, but because of the constant creaming (and judicious applications of aloe vera gel), the skin just flaked off and didn’t get sore. I also felt tired towards the end and for the 2 weeks following, but know that it was rads related as I didn’t have chemo and my treatment centre was only 20 minutes drive away.

Good luck and hope all goes well.

Debs x

Thanks for all the reassuring information. And as a few people have said, it’s soooo much better than having to do chemo, from everything I’ve read on here. I’m just trying to plan when I can have the surgery to match my non-treated side to the cancer side - been told I can do it once the rad effects have gone.
Sarah x


Hi Sarah

I know exactly what you are going through, I too am scheduled for 15 rads from the 30th Sept and am worried sick about the side effects. Other posts talk of aqueous cream, do the hospital provide this or should I get some in?
Thanks to all for other posts as they are really helpful and positive, I shall get some secret support camisoles so I can take my bra off, great advice.

lorraine x

Hi Lorraine
In my case the hospital neither told me about aqueous cream nor provided it, I only found out about it in advance from this forum. Went to Boots, bought a large tub for about £2 and my OH loves the smell of it! Wouldn’t bother with the secret support camisoles, I’m finding that the most important factor is ventilation to the boob to allow it to cool down naturally, even if that is just a loose T-shirt or blouse. Might not look pretty, but it works the best for me so that’s what I do at home. Otherwise I take pity on the general public and cover up a bit, but I find it does heat up underneath.
Sarah x

I am a little concerned as everyone is talking about leaving their bras off etc. and I had reconstruction surgery in July and was told to wear a support bra day and night for a minimum of three months post op … that will overlap with my radiotherapy by a couple of weeks and obviously I want to give my new breast the very best of chances.
I also plan on working throughtout my rads so can’t imagine coming to work with out a bra … especially as my breasts are now completely different and sit at different places on my chest.


Hi Jacqui not had a recon but I only took my bra off at home on ocassions as the lower end of my ANC scar which was already pink got even more so with rads and the edge of my bra was just in the same place.I have no doubt had it not been for that I could have worn my bra all the time.
I didn’t bother with secret camisoles. The hosp gave a tube of acqueous cream which only lasted a few days then bought large tub from Boots about £4 I think, have nearly finished it but was using it up to 4 times some days.Also tried organic aloe vera gel last week end too. Was cooling and soothing but did not feel as moisturising as A Cream. Jackie

Thanks Jackie x

I’ve just had my 9th out of 15 rads this afternoon and so far the only side effects are pink skin, a tender feeling and a slight itchyness. Nothing that hurts or is remotely unbearable, so it’s not necessarily nasty.I use E45 morning and night, and was also reminded by the radiotherapists to keep my fluid level up, so am drinking lots.
As for wearing a bra, I’m on the larger side and have found I am not comfortable without a bra at night at the moment so wear a soft cotton non wired bra (Asda and M&S have both proved useful).
During the day I normally wear underwired bras, but during the rads was advised by a hospital leaflet (and reading this forum)that this might rub the skin. So again I wear a slightly more supportive cotton sports bra (Asda)during the day. I’m working full time, so need to look and feel ok in the outside world. A few times I’ve tucked one of my hubby’s cotton hankies under the bottom edge to help keep the ‘under boobs’ dry and stop the bra from chaffing the tender skin. It hangs down below the bra and looks a bit weird but it’s under my t-shirt so who knows!
Seems there are lots of different variations on what works for people, so just take it gently and try out ideas from these message boards.
Best of luck with your treatments everyone,

Hi everyone,
thanks for all the informative posts and for sharing your experiences. I’m definitely off to Boots tomorrow to get a big tub of Aqueous cream and won’t bother with the secret support tops. Will also get some cotton hankies, what a great idea! I am also hoping to work full-time although my employees are being brilliant and very supportive and letting me sleep in if I feel tired/nauseous.
Will keep looking at the posts on this so keep them coming

Lorraine xxx

hi everyone i had 16 rads and 4 boost in feb i had no side effects what so ever i had tatoos done you can hardly see them no skin problems what so ever the cream was given to me at the end off treatment as i wasnt to put anything on during treatment my local asda sells the cream at £3 a tub good luck everyone lori xxxxx