• How long after ending radiation and chemo do side effects last. Can they get worse before they get better.

    Asked by sbmontgomery on Friday, September 21, 2012

    How long after ending radiation and chemo do side effects last. Can they get worse before they get better.

    I have 4 more radiation treatments left and 7 more days of oral chemo left. Just this week my hair started to fall out, will it continue after treatments end or will it continue until all my hair is gone.

    17 Answers from the Community

    17 answers
    • FreeBird's Avatar
      FreeBird

      With chemotherapy, for my dad, side effects began on or about day three, and started to improve a couple weeks after chemo. His hair returned fully after about three months following the end of chemotherapy. This time around, it's a different drug. So, his hair didn't fall out. Different drugs may produce different side effects for different people. For example, he experienced very little nausea. He has not been through radiation.

      Here are a couple booklets on radiation and chemotherapy from the National Cancer Institute (U.S.)
      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/radiation-therapy-and-you
      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you

      In some instances, I have read, that side effects may worsen. One of those side effects can be peripheral neuropathy-- or that pins and needles feeling you can feel in your feet and hands. However, that has not been dad's experience. With his first cancer, all chemo side effects improved with time.

      almost 3 years ago
    • teddyfuzz's Avatar
      teddyfuzz

      My hair started coming back in about 3 months after my last chemo treatment. The farther out you get, the more "good days" you will have. For me, it was at about the 4-6-week mark that I started to notice a big improvement. It was frustrating because I would think that I was past everything and then I'd have a few days of fatigue. Pretty soon, I was having more good days and less tired days. Hang in there. It eventually gets better!

      almost 3 years ago
    • liznparadise's Avatar
      liznparadise

      I am still waiting to know the answer to this question myself. While I have recovered from the chemo, other than having all of my hair back, I still have effects of the radiation. For my type of cancer, radiation was the main treatment (daily radiation for 28 days, 5 days a week & weekends off). My last radiation treatment was February 17th. I still have some stiffness in my hips if I've been sitting for a while and a few other issues. Better than the alternative though!

      almost 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1

      I was receiving radiation treatments for my breast cancer while on oral chemo for my renal cell carcinoma. I did not loss my hair at that time. but my energy levels tanked and i started feeling like a walking zombie by the last few radiation sessions. I bottomed out about a week or two after the radiation treatment finished - but i still continued with my chemo, it took about 5 weeks to get back to feeling like my per-radiation self. It took about 3 months for the blistering and burning to heal, though I still have 'sun tan" on my breast and chest.

      almost 3 years ago
    • JMS's Avatar
      JMS

      Just for your information, I'm a pancreatic cancer patient and completed the radiation and oral chemo on September 12. I took about a week before I began to really feel stronger and better. I don't think the side effects got worse before they got better, at least, not in my case. The side effects I had been experiencing were extreme fatigue, dizziness, and pain from the internal burns caused by the radiation (especially in the digestive track area). Swallowing (anything, but especially cold drinks with ice) had become nearly impossible, but this has gotten better and my appetite has returned. I've lost about 50% of my hair between this treatment and the previous chemo treatments (6 weeks of IV-infusions of Gemzar), and it is still coming out, but not quite so much. No regrowth has started yet, and I still have one more round of gemzar yet to go (in about 2 weeks). Hope this is helpful.

      almost 3 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar
      Carol-Charlie

      Please remember everyone is different!!!! Hair should start growing back within a month or two of ending chemo. Weakness ... In the middle of chemo - I asked why I was so tired all the time... Oncologist said..... Lets see, we're pouring poison into your body to kill the cancer cells....Your body is fighting to live... rest, sleep if you can... and know that it's working. I then desided to fight hard to live... when cancer was gone... I'd deal with the side effects that would remain. For me, I'd had Stage IIIC Ovarian Cancer. I don't have enough hair to wear. I wear a PaulaYoung.com wig... So... still getting complements on my hair. I wear very low heels or flats now... Thank goodness they're in fashion. I can't feel my feet and have neuropathy pain... each time they hit. I thank God I'm alive. Fingers are still a bit numb, but I can still do all that's needed... They are finding better ways of doing things every day.... Ten years ago, I probably wouldn't be here 7 years after diagnosis..... Count your blessings. Look on line for a cute wig and smile... Life is GOOD!!!!

      almost 3 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar
      Carol-Charlie

      Please remember everyone is different!!!! Hair should start growing back within a month or two of ending chemo. Weakness ... In the middle of chemo - I asked why I was so tired all the time... Oncologist said..... Lets see, we're pouring poison into your body to kill the cancer cells....Your body is fighting to live... rest, sleep if you can... and know that it's working. I then desided to fight hard to live... when cancer was gone... I'd deal with the side effects that would remain. For me, I'd had Stage IIIC Ovarian Cancer. I don't have enough hair to wear. I wear a PaulaYoung.com wig... So... still getting complements on my hair. I wear very low heels or flats now... Thank goodness they're in fashion. I can't feel my feet and have neuropathy pain... each time they hit. I thank God I'm alive. Fingers are still a bit numb, but I can still do all that's needed... They are finding better ways of doing things every day.... Ten years ago, I probably wouldn't be here 7 years after diagnosis..... Count your blessings. Look on line for a cute wig and smile... Life is GOOD!!!!

      almost 3 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      All of that depends on the drugs and radiation dosage/type you are getting, the particular side effects, and the individual patient. I finished chemo 6 months ago and still have peripheral neuropathy and may have for the rest of my life. Other side effects have improved or resolved completely.

      almost 3 years ago
    • sassynancy's Avatar
      sassynancy

      just finished radiation and the Dr. said things will get worse before they get better, about 3 more weeks. I think chemo, other than your taste, stops getting worse when you finish it although it stays in your system for weeks. Your hair should start coming back as soon as you finish chemo, mine grew in curly which lasted for about 2 months. Hope this helps

      almost 3 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      My treatments stopped and I started getting better right away, but of course my body was beat down so far I had a long way to go to get back to normal. It's been 4 years, and I am still not back to normal, I will never be back to normal. I have side effects that will probably just get worse. I have just accepted that I will never be like I was. It sucks, but thats where I am.
      It's different for each of us, hopefully, you will bounce back and be as good as before.
      Best to you
      Greg

      almost 3 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar
      ticklingcancer

      I finished chemo 6 months ago and still have neuropathy. It's not much better but my Dr assures me it will get better but no guarantees it will go away completely.

      almost 3 years ago
    • Karolina's Avatar
      Karolina

      I can tell you from a wife's perspective, my husband has stage 3 lung cancer and has finished his radiation and chemotherapy on August 21.
      Unfortunately, he did so well during the treatment, but the side effects started about 1 week after the last treatment. Radiation is what hit him the hardest.
      Keep you weight up is the best advise I can give you. Do it now while you have minimal side effects. He lost a tremendous amount of weight due to throat and chest pain, but it only lasted intensely for about 15 or so days, then slowly started to decrease. Some days are better than others, lidocaine was very helpful in the brief window it gives him to eat comfortably. He did need dilatin in the hospital as well as fluids for the first week of the onset, which minimalized as much as possible with immediate results from the drug which I can not administer at home.
      Each person is different as we all know, so you may not feel any side effects. Surgery for him is next Tuesday so he's bulking up best he can to be ready.
      Also, radiation, we were told, if you have not had your surgery first, is a 30 day window for the roots of the tumor to start growing again. So, if your next step is surgery, make sure your PET scan is done immediately after last treatment and you see your surgeon asap as to whether you are a candidate for surgery. This is the process we followed and were able to have the surgery, but our window has elapsed further than I would have liked. Hope this helps. Be well.

      almost 3 years ago
    • gscialdone's Avatar
      gscialdone

      I had a full course of radiation of the head and neck for a squamous cell carcinoma in a lymph node. I also had a feeding tube. Recovery took so long that I dispaired that I would never get better. Good nutrition, time, a posittve attitude and treating yourself well was all that was needed though. Be patient. You will recover. Best of luck,
      Gary

      almost 3 years ago
    • braintumorz's Avatar
      braintumorz

      I think they can definitely get worse before they get better, because as many people have said before me, the effects of these things are cumulative, so you should feel your absolute worst as soon as they are finished. That said, I am about 2 weeks out of proton radiation (33 treatments total, 28 proton and 5 photon) and I am already seeing improvements. Though they may be small at first, you may notice your fatigue lessening and being more alert. My radiologist said I would experience fatigue for six months, but I believe that your attitude and your diet really control how quickly you will heal. I recommend lots of seaweed (wakame, arame) and milk thistle, along with other supplements to get you back your hair and sense of well-being. Best of luck.

      over 2 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar
      DaveWaz

      SB,

      I hope you are doing well and your side effects have subsided. For those of you new to this you might want to check out the following links.

      Our beginners guides include information on everything from chemo to how survivors survived cancer.
      https://www.whatnext.com/cc/cancer_guides_beginner

      Also, be sure to check out the link below and then filter it by your specific diagnosis.
      https://www.whatnext.com/experiences/side-effects/all

      Finally if you are interested in specific side effects, click on the "Experiences" link in the top navigation of this page and enter the side effect and select go. This will take you to a list of everyone on the site who has experience with the specific side effect.

      I hope this helps.

      almost 2 years ago
    • BigDeb's Avatar
      BigDeb

      Hi Sbmontgomery, I'm trying to find out the same thing....

      I think the hair part depends on each individual, cause my hair didn't start to fall out till about two months after chemo. I didn't it was going to fall out, but it did, and i mean all of it fell all out. I started wearing wigs, cause I like long hair.

      over 1 year ago
    • cloe's Avatar
      cloe

      how long will the nausea last for my dad has been nauseated for 5 weeks it comes and goes.. is this normal for someone who just finished chemo and raidiation

      about 1 year ago

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