Spotlight On: Cancer Late Effects service

Our Trust provides a Radiotherapy Late Effects service which aims to help people who experience late side effects that occur following radiotherapy treatment.

Radiotherapy is an intensive process which often leaves the patient with un-intended side effects as a result. “Late Effects” can develop months, years, or even decades after undergoing radiotherapy. They can be minor, but some can be more difficult to live with.

The service pilot has been running for a year and is funded by the Cancer Alliance. Lara Anthony, Late Effects Advanced Therapeutic Radiographer, said: “Late effects from radiotherapy do vary from person to person and change depending on which part of the body has been treated. Sometimes it might be a side effect that you had during treatment that never went away.”

“Patients can ask their GP, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or Oncologist to make a referral. We send over some questionnaires to find out what is really worrying them, what their issues are, then we go through it in an appointment. Both face to face and telephone appointments are available.”

The service expects to identify late effects and offer a range of strategies to reduce their negative impact. The service is patient-led and patients are given the opportunity to share their concerns and a care plan will be created jointly patient and Therapeutic Radiographer.

Lara added: “From there I work with the patient to come up with a plan to help with whatever issues they are facing. From self-management techniques, possible medications, or onward referrals within the hospital.”

“Emotional and physical support for people living with long term effects because of their radiotherapy treatment is a core part of our care package.”

“Sometimes it’s explaining why they’ve got these side effects and reassurance that it is normal, even if it seems insignificant can be a big help.”

“I’ll follow them up with a telephone call three months later with the aim to discharge. There are people I continue to contact to make sure everything’s okay and until they are happy with their situation.”

“We strive to create the most personalised care plan as possible. Over the last year while running the pilot I have developed plans with 40 patients. I’ve had some great feedback from patients, and they are always so grateful for service.”

A patient, who has been using the service, said: “When you are in so much pain, constantly, its life changing. What really helps is when someone cares and helps you. I have OCD and not being able to clean my house other than in small bursts has been very depressing.  Since a change in my medication, I have been able to hoover in one go and it has had such an improvement on my mental wellbeing, such a positive impact on me.”

  • Questions can be directed to:
  • If you feel that you are experiencing late effects following radiotherapy treatment, please ask your GP, Oncology Doctor or Clinical Nurse Specialist to refer you to the Radiotherapy Late Effects Service at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.