Late effects

All cancer treatments are different and affect people in different ways. Most people have some side effects during treatment. But some people also have late effects of treatment.  

Group of young people

Late effects are side effects that: 

  • begin during or shortly after treatment and do not go away within 6 months – they can become permanent and are sometimes called long-term effects 
  • do not affect you during treatment but begin months or even years after your treatment ends. 

Late effects can sound worrying. But for some people, late effects may not affect daily life much. Other people may have to slightly adapt their lifestyle. But there is a lot that can be done to help manage late effects. If you notice any new symptoms, or symptoms that get worse, tell your treatment team. 

Your cancer doctor or nurse can tell you whether you are likely to have any late effects from treatment. This will depend on which treatment you have. You will have regular follow-up appointments at the hospital after you finish treatment. This is to monitor how you are and to check for any late effects. You may have some tests and scans as part of your follow-up.  

It is very important that you go to all your follow-up appointments. This makes sure that your team can notice any late effects early and helps keep you well for the future. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often you will have follow-up appointments. You usually have them for many years. Sometimes you may have them for the rest of your life. Your cancer doctor or nurse may refer you to a late effects clinic for your appointments.  

More information on specific late effects you might experience:


Some cancer treatments can effect your fertility - your ability to get pregnant and have a baby, or to make someone pregnant. We have more information about fertility, whether you are in a relationship or not and whatever your sexual orientation.

Read more

Based on content originally produced by Macmillan Cancer Support