Supplements after Short Course Radiotherapy

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Hi everyone - I hope someone can help... this is my first time posting here.

I have just had 5 days of 'short course' radiotherapy treatment for my rectal cancer which completed on 07-June.

I stopped all supplements during the treatment as advised by radiotherapy team, other than 1000mg Vit C effervescent tablets (as I did not find out until afterwards that this should be avoided).

With a week now passed I am finding it difficult to confirm when I should be okay to restart supplements. The doctors are waiting 6 weeks before any Op to check tumour shrinkage.

Can anyone advise when it is normally okay to re-start supplements? Theres a lot of conflicting information online and the radiotherapy clinic is not easily contactable.

Thanks in advance.

  • Hi Mrchris,

    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the online community, I hope you find it supportive. My name is Carla and I’m one of the Cancer information Nurses on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis of rectal cancer. I hope that you have been managing well with your treatment.

    It may feel frustrating that you haven’t been able to get a definite answer on whether it is safe to restart your supplements following your radiotherapy treatment.

    Here at the Macmillan support line, we provide generalised cancer information and emotional support. We are separate from all healthcare services and can’t access patient records to be able to answer your question.

    There is a risk that some supplements can interfere with cancer treatments and reduce their effectiveness so it would be a best for you to speak with your clinical team.

    It is not unusual to wait up to 6 weeks to ensure side effects are reduced and that there is no further risk of interference with any other medications including supplements.

    I would suggest contacting your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or consultant to discuss further.

    Having a balanced and varied diet is the best way to get a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals. Supplements should always be guided by your medical team.

    You may wish to join our Bowel (colon and rectal) forum where you can share and support other people who have been affected by rectal cancer.

    I hope this helps to guide you. Don’t hesitate to come back if you need anything.

    Best wishes,

    Carla, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.

    Ref: CC/KA