Radiotherapy Patients: Breast

Information for Radiotherapy Patients: Breast

The information in this guide is designed to explain what your treatment will consist of and the most common side effects of the treatment. Your doctors and nurses in the Radiotherapy Department will give you further information. Please feel free to ask all the questions you need to.

Special instructions for during radiotherapy


3-4 weeks after starting treatment, the skin in the area treated may become red, itchy or the hair may begin to fall out.

  • Only products recommended by the nurse in the radiotherapy department should be applied to the area treated.
  • For daily bathing, use a ph-neutral soap. Do not rub the treated area with a sponge or flannel; wash the area lightly with your hands.
  • Avoid taking long baths, use the shower instead.
  • After bathing, pat your skin dry with a cotton towel and do not rub the skin.
  • Do not scratch your skin and avoid wearing tight clothes.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about what creams you can use to relieve itching.
  • Use cotton under wear, it will be more comfortable.
  • Do not use cupped, underwired or heavily padded bras as they may irritate the skin.
  • Do not expose your skin to sudden temperature changes

The skin under your arm may become more sensitive.

  • Do not remove underarm hair during treatment.
  • Do not use antiperspirants, talcum powder or deodorant as these products contain mineral salts that may react with radiotherapy.
  • You may notice that you perspire less during treatment.

Avoid exposure to the sun. Cover the treated area if you are exposed to the sun.

If you have had an axillary lymphadenectomy, you must exercise to prevent stiffness in your arm and shoulder. It is very important to do the exercises during and after treatment.

You may notice you get tired more than usual.

  • Get as much rest as possible.
  • Do not tire yourself out.

You may experience some pain and find it difficult to swallow - this is due to inflammation of the esophagus, as the area is part of the treatment area. If you find it becomes a problem, tell your doctor or nurse.

It is important to eat well and maintain your weight during treatment.

  • Eat foods that are high in protein like red meat, fish, milk, milky drinks, eggs and cheese.

If you require advice on your diet, you can speak to our nutritionist.

Sexual activity is perfectly normal, as long as you do not feel any discomfort.

  • It is important to take precautions to prevent pregnancy during your radiotherapy treatment.
  • Consult your doctor before taking hormones, contraceptives or if you wish to use hormone creams.
  • Consult your doctor if you plan to get pregnant after your treatment.


Instructions for after radiotherapy


On completion of your radiotherapy treatment, you must follow these general instructions:

  • Do not smoke
  • Follow a balanced diet. Even after your treatment has ended, following a blanced diet and drinking plenty of liquids will help your recovery.
  • Give your skin time to heal. Your nurse will tell you which creams to use after your treatment as your skin will need a lot of moisture.
  • Avoid using padded or underwired bras for a few weeks after treatment.
  • Protect the treated area of skin from the sun. Use a factor 40+ sun cream.
  • Continue doing the exercises recommended to prevent stiffness in your arm and shoulder.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if you notice any new symptoms, lumps or lesions. Speak to them if you notice anything unusual.