How long?


My husband finished his 6 week chemoradiotheraphy at the end of September. Can you tell me when his immune system will be back to normal, when he isn't at risk of infections.

Thank you 


  • Hi Worrypants1

    Thank you for getting in touch with us and welcome to the online community. My name is Joanne and I’m one of the Cancer Information Nurses on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I can see that you have joined the Head and Neck Cancer Forum and I hope you will find it useful.

    Chemoradiation is a treatment for some types of head and neck cancer which combines Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy. The chemotherapy helps the radiotherapy to work more effectively.

    Having radiotherapy and chemotherapy together can make the side effects of treatment more troublesome. I hope your husband has tolerated his treatment well.

    A cancer diagnosis itself can have an impact on your Immune System and it is important to bear this in mind even when treatment is complete.

    The risk of Infection during or after cancer treatment can continue to cause concern when your treatment is finished. It is important to speak to your oncology team for advice about any concerns that you have. They will also be able to advise on any other health issues that your husband may have which could impact his risk of developing an infection in the future.

    Chemotherapy treatment can cause an increased risk of infection. This is because the chemotherapy may cause a reduction in the blood cells which fight off infection.

    The ability to fight of infection is most significantly reduced during the 7-14 days after treatment. For most people, blood cell levels will then return to normal before the next dose of chemotherapy but there can be some variations. This risk will then generally reduce once chemotherapy is completed.

    Radiotherapy can also weaken the immune system and the severity of this will depend on individual factors such as the total dose of radiation, the area of the body that is being treated and the frequency and dose of radiotherapy.

    This means that the period where the immune system is affected can vary and you should speak to your oncology team about the ongoing risks.

    As you and your husband adapt to life after the completion of his treatment, there are some Tips for avoiding infection which you may find useful in planning for the future.

    Life After Treatment can present new challenges and it is important that you have support yourself whilst Supporting someone with cancer.

    If you feel that it would be useful to talk to one of the nurses, please do call us on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I hope this information is of some help and please do contact us again.

    Best wishes

    Joanne H

    Our Ref JH/KHa

    Joanne H - Cancer Information Nurse Specialist

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 00 00 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.


  • Hi Joanne,

    • Thank you so much for your very helpful information. My husband is slowly getting better, it's been beyond tough, but, he has been strong and determined all the way through his grueling ordeal.... distressing to watch, even worse to go through. He refused the feeding tube at the beginning of treatment, which I wasn't sure about, but, in the end it had to be his decision...he got through without a tube, he lost some weight, 6 kilos, but, he is currently having 6 fortified drinks a day, plus soup, so the team at Christie's are happy with that.
    • For me it's been overwhelming emotionally and physically, but, kept that to myself, I couldn't burden my husband with that too......I have asked for counselling, I have recognised I do need it.....back to my original question, I asked, as I have  regular weekly classes, which I haven't been to since his chemoradiotheraphy, I feel I just can't risk it.

    Thank you again Joanne