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Side Effects

The side effects you might experience will depend on the part of the body being treated, the dose of radiation given and whether you also receive chemotherapy. Before treatment begins, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how best to manage them. This list doesn't represent all of the possible side side effects.

This is a visual side effects chart showing short and long term side effects. Larger bubbles show higher likelihood of occurrence. To see a larger version, click on the chart.

Breast Cancer Side Effects

For patients who prefer to look at the side effects in text instead of graphics, please see below.

Short term side effects

Side effects are usually temporary and usually go away shortly after treatment ends. Below is a list of possible side effects you might notice during your treatment.

More likely

  • Skin irritation, redness, peeling
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling, itchiness, pain, tenderness

Less likely

  • Muscle tightening
  • Sore Throat
  • Nausea

Long term side effects

After the short term side effects of radiation therapy resolve, others may become noticeable months or years later.

More likely

  • Darkening/thickening of skin
  • Scar tissue
  • Complications with breast reconstruction
  • Breast size change

Less likely

  • Muscle tightening
  • Breast and/or arm swelling
  • Shortness of breath/cough
  • Heart Problem
  • Rib fracture
  • Second cancer