Common early side effects during External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

  • Fatigue
  • Urinary irritation – frequency, urgency, discomfort and possible blood in the urine
  • Diarrhoea and large bowel irritation (discomfort with bowel movements and possible bleeding)
  • Small bowel irritation – Nausea, vomiting and general abdominal discomfort
  • Skin irritation and possible pubic hair loss
  • Vaginal irritation

These side effects occur to some degree in most people and can be managed during treatment when you are seen by the treating team.

Late side effects following External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)

Note that severe late complications are rare.

  • Bowel changes – Ongoing changes in bowel habits experienced in the form of diarrhoea, certain food intolerances, pain with bowel movement, passage of mucous or blood, constipation
  • Urinary irritation – most times the bladder effects improve however some people can have ongoing irritation with frequency, burning and urgency. Some people can also develop urinary incontinence, but this is not very common
  • Vaginal changes – scarring with dry shortened vagina
  • Small bowel obstruction –Some people can develop bowel obstruction and have abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting with changes in their bowel from constipation to watery diarrhoea or a complete blockage. This is rare but if it occurs requires immediate medical attention
  • Lymphoedema – swelling of the legs, mild cases commonly but if you have had the lymph glands removed at surgery and have pelvic radiation your risk of this increases
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Second cancer – rare

Many women, not surprisingly, feel very emotional during treatment of uterine cancer. All centres have psychological services available to support women going through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer of the uterus.

Information and Guidance

Radiotherapy Treatment Process

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