July 26, 2019

Can we swim during radiotherapy or after surgery?

Whether you are doing it for your physical or psychological well-being, or for staying in shape, fighting fatigue or sleeping better, or accelerating your recovery, physical activity during or after the treatment of your prostate cancer will always be encouraged, as it brings many benefits to your health and quality of life in general.

But can one bathe during a radiotherapy treatment or after a radical surgery - is a question that comes up often, especially in the summertime or if a person is enrolled in an aquafitness class for example.

Let's see together the few instructions to follow ... before jumping into the water!

Activities and swimming during or after radiotherapy

In addition to side effects such as fatigue or certain intestinal disorders related to radiotherapy, your skin may also be very sensitive and irritated during and after your treatment, and chlorine in a pool may dry out or irritate the irradiated area further. That’s why taking care of your skin takes all its meaning.

Instructions to follow – Taking care of your skin

  • Use lukewarm water and mild, unscented soap and rinse your skin thoroughly.
  • Avoid scrubbing the treated area and dry it by tapping with a soft towel.
  • Do not use creams, ointments or powders without first consulting your doctor.
  • Wear loose clothing to reduce irritation to the treated area. Choose cotton or natural fabrics.
  • Do not apply hot or cold directly to the treated area.
  • Do not wash off the marks your radiotherapy team draws on your skin.

Can I swim in pools or lakes? What about spas and saunas?

You can swim in pools or lakes as long as you do not have sores, broken skin, redness, rashes or skin pain. Do not use a sauna or spa as the heat can increase the risk of skin reaction or aggravate a skin reaction.

After swimming, take a shower to remove excess chlorine and stop this activity if your skin becomes painful.

For brachytherapy (LDR ou HDR), since the intervention means inserting needles into your prostate, talk to your doctor before hitting water.

Activities and bathing after surgery

Unlike radiation therapy, radical surgery is a major procedure that requires a convalescent period of several weeks. Baths, spas or swimming pools are not allowed post-surgery for at least 4 weeks. Indeed, it is necessary to wait for the healing of your incisions, the stop of wound discharge (if any), the removal of your drain (if you have one), your catheter, your clips or butterfly closures, the resorption of your melting sutures, etc.

The fact remains that one must maintain good hygiene and by the same token, you could refresh in the shower during hot weather by following certain instructions.

Instructions to follow – Maintaining a good hygiene

  • Only take showers when the incisions have healed (approximately 2 weeks).
  • You can shower as soon as your drain is removed and there has been no discharge from your wound for 48 hours.
  • You can take a shower while you have a catheter and collecting bag, unless you have been told otherwise.

Ask for the green light

The best course of action when it comes time to continue or resume an activity during or after your treatment is to ask for your doctor's approval and thumbs up.

Don’t hesitate. Contact us at 1 855 899-2872 to discuss with one of our nurses specialized in uro-oncology. It's simple and free, like all of our other services.

Pages of our site that might interest you
Want to know more? Just click on one of the links below
Radiotherapy – What to expect at home
Radical surgery – What to expect at home

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Sources and references
Canadian Cancer Society
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
Effects of radiotherapy on the skin – Cancer Research UK

Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved - 2019


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