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Follow-up after radiotherapy

After your radiotherapy treatment has finished, your healthcare team will ask you to come back to the hospital for check-ups. This is so you continue to get the proper treatment and support.

We know that waiting for follow-up appointments can be difficult, which is why we are here to support you. You may find it helpful to give us a call on 0808 802 8000 before or after treatment, or speak with our 1:1 service.

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Treatment summary

Once your radiotherapy treatment is finished, you should be given a treatment summary. This is a document by your healthcare team that explains:

  • what treatments you have had
  • any side effects you might have
  • signs and symptoms to look out for 
  • a plan that has been made for your long-term care and support.   

This treatment summary should also be sent to your GP surgery, so they know how to support you too. You might want to check that the hospital have sent it to them.

Check-up appointments

You will also have check-ups with your healthcare team. You might see or speak to your consultant oncologist, clinical oncologist, or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). 

How often you have check-ups will depend on the exact treatment you have had and your individual situation. You will usually have check-ups:

  • 6 to 8 weeks after your treatment has finished
  • every 3 to 6 months for first 2 years
  • every 6 to 12 months for the next 3 years.

These check-ups will:

  • check how well treatment has worked
  • monitor any side effects 
  • provide you with support.

These check-ups may be at the hospital, or by phone or video call. The COVID-19 pandemic means it is more likely you will be offered a phone or video call check-up, as your healthcare team will be following safety rules put in place by the hospital. However, if you or your healthcare team would prefer that you go into the hospital, they will arrange this for you.  

You might have physical examinations during your check-ups. These may include:

  • a pelvic examination – where your healthcare professional feels your stomach and may put gloved fingers inside your vagina 
  • a speculum or visual examination – where your healthcare professional uses a speculum (plastic tube) to gently open your vagina and look at your vagina or cervix, if you still have one.

You won’t usually have scans, such as an MRI, unless your healthcare team think you should have it. They might suggest it if you are having new symptoms. If you would feel more comfortable having a scan, it is important to ask for one.   

Cervical screening after treatment

You will not need to go for cervical screening after radiotherapy. This is because the radiotherapy causes changes to the cells in your cervix, which may make them difficult to see under a microscope or more likely to give an incorrect result. Instead, your healthcare team will do the checks we talk about above.   

Your healthcare team should let your GP surgery know that you no longer need cervical screening. Your GP surgery will then tell the national Cervical Screening Programme, so you no longer get automatic invitations. If you still get an invite after radiotherapy, contact your healthcare team at the hospital so they can sort it out.

More information and support about radiotherapy

Radiotherapy and its effects can have a huge impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. You may be dealing with the effects of other treatments, such as chemotherapy, as well as continuing to process a cervical cancer diagnosis and all that can bring.

Your healthcare team, both at the hospital and at your GP surgery, are there to support you with any questions or worries you have. Remember that we are here for you too, whether you are waiting for radiotherapy, in the middle of treatment, or years past it. Our trained volunteers can listen and help you understand what’s going on via our free Helpline on 0808 802 8000

Check our Helpline opening hours > 

 

Sometimes connecting with others who have gone through a similar experience can be helpful. Our online Forum lets our community give and get support. You can read through the messages or post your own – whichever feels most comfortable.

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If you have general questions about radiotherapy, our panel of medical experts may be able to help. They can’t give you answers about your individual situation or health – it’s best to speak with your GP or healthcare team for that.

Use our Ask the Expert service > 

Thank you to all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it. 

References

  • British Gynaecological Cancer Society (2020). Cervical Cancer Guidelines: Recommendations for Practice. Web: www.bgcs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/FINAL-Cx-Ca-Version-for-submission.pdf. Accessed October 2020.
  • Marth, C. et al (2017). Cervical cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology. 28;s4. pp.iv72-iv83.
  • Cibula, D. et al (2018). The European Society of Gynaecological Oncology/European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology/European Society of Pathology guidelines for the management of patients with cervical cancer. Radiotherapy Oncology. 127;3. pp.404-416. 

We write our information based on literature searches and expert review. For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected].

Read more about how we research and write our information >

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Date last updated: 
04 Nov 2020
Date due for review: 
01 Nov 2023
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