• Cancer treatment affects everyone differently, but there are some things that are good to know before you begin
  • Feeling nervous is totally normal, and talking things through with someone you trust can help
  • If you experience pain during treatment, your clinical team will help you manage that
  • There are lots of different health professionals you might meet, and they’re all there to help you

I’m worried about my cancer treatment

Cancer treatment is different for everyone, but there are some things you’re likely to experience as doctors and nurses work with you to get you better.

Feeling nervous about your treatment is totally natural.

Talking things through with friends or family can make you feel better, as well as asking questions and talking through your worries with your clinical team.

And if you’ve got other ideas about things that might make treatment easier – like listening to music – just let your doctors and nurses know. It’s your treatment, so you’re the boss.

Will cancer treatment hurt?

It’s probably one of the big questions on your mind. And the short answer, unfortunately, is that some of your treatments – or the side effects of those treatments – might hurt.

Painkillers will make a big difference, so make sure you tell your doctors and nurses if you have any pain. It’s the only way they’ll know, and painkillers can really help you to keep doing the things you enjoy.

Pain can be caused by:

  • Tests like biopsies, lumbar punctures and bone marrow tests, which are used to find out what cancer you have and to see how your treatment is going. You might be offered an anaesthetic or painkillers before having any of these. You can always talk to your doctor or nurse if you’re feeling pain.
  • Treatments including chemotherapy, which can sometimes cause side effects like mouth sores, constipation and joint pain.
  • Surgery, which can cause pain once the anaesthetic has worn off.
  • Tumours, if they press on your bones, nerves, spinal cord or organs (although treatment should reduce this pain).

Who’s involved in my cancer treatment?

You’ll be treated by a team of experts who specialise in different areas of cancer treatment. It can be handy to keep a list of everyone’s names, so you know who’s who. Your team might include a:

Clinical nurse specialist – an expert nurse who focuses on cancer treatment

Consultant – a specialist doctor who is an expert in particular areas of medicine

Dietician – an expert who can review you diet and help you plan what to eat

General Practitioner (GP) – your normal doctor, who’ll you probably be in touch with throughout treatment

Palliative care team – the people whose job it is to relieve cancer symptoms, help you manage pain and help you deal with the emotional impact of cancer

Pathologist – a doctor who studies body tissues to look for signs of cancer and other diseases

Pharmacist – an expert in the medicines used to treat cancer

Phlebotomist – a specialist in taking blood

Physiotherapist and/or occupational therapist – an expert in helping with physical problems and movements

Psychologist and/or counsellor – trained professionals who can help you deal with difficult emotions and mental health

Radiologist – An expert at reading scans and x-rays

Radiotherapist and radiographer – Experts who give radiotherapy treatment and control the machines used for scans

Social worker – A trained professional who can help you and your family adjust to life during and after cancer treatment

Speech and language therapist – An expert who can help you talk and communicate

Surgeon – A specialist cancer surgeon who will be in charge during operations

Youth Support Coordinators and activity coordinator – Funded by Teenage Cancer Trust, they provide emotional support and help you relax in and out of hospital.

The people who treat you should introduce themselves and explain what they’re doing, but if you’re ever unsure, always ask.