Acute side effects are those that happen during and within a few weeks after treatment. They are usually more temporary and tend to resolve, although this is not always the case. Sometimes severe acute side effects can result in late effects

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of weight
  • Skin reaction
  • Rarely – irritation of the food pipe or stomach that can cause bleeding
  • Some patients cannot get enough nutrition while the above side effects occur and occasionally need a feeding tube either via the nose (naso-gastric tube) or stomach (gastrostomy tube) to support them while they are having treatment.

Late side effects are side effects that can occur 3 months after completing radiotherapy. Late side effects are less common. They may not show themselves during or immediately after radiotherapy but occur later on. The risk with late side effects is that they could be permanent or irreversible and become a more long-term situation.

  • Inflammation or scarring on the lungs that can cause cough and shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the covering of the heart (called the pericardium)
  • Narrowing of the food pipe, causing trouble swallowing
  • Ulceration of the food pipe or stomach that can cause bleeding
  • Very rare – another tumour in years to come as a result of the radiation therapy

Information and Guidance

Radiotherapy Treatment Process

Click below for a video that shows the external beam radiotherapy treatment process.