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Old 09-02-2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

In another week, I will be starting 6 weeks of radiation following a lumpectomy for DCIS. Oncologist told me I may experience a sunburn-like rash and fatigue, after about 3 weeks.
He said some of the radiation will hit the lung and ribs - it's unavoidable but usually causes no long-term problems. He said the ribs may be slightly more vunerable to fracture if I were in a car accident or fell heavily on them. He also said they will map the beam so it will not affect the heart. In fact, I go in tomorrow for the mapping.

Has anyone completed similar radiation and, if so, what side effects did you experience? Were you also told of possible effects to ribs/lung? I worry about such radiation exposure to a portion of the lung and any long-term health problems that may result.

 
Old 09-02-2010, 08:51 PM   #2
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Hi, I had 38 radiation treatments following mastectomy and chemo. I had one beam just to the breast area, and a 2nd beam to the clavicle area, to target the lymph nodes in that region. You won't have that, I am sure, I only had that because my CA was invasive and I had so many lymph nodes involved. I have very fair skin, and still I tolerated the treatments well. My radiation ONCO was excellent. I did get tired some, but I had to have gallbladder surgery in the middle, just missed one day of treatment. I did turn red on my back where the beam to the shoulder was, but I did not have more than a faint sunburn to the breast area. My onco told me to put good skin cream or lotion on AFTER each treatment (I think I used Eucerin). Make sure your skin is clean and lotion-or-deodorant free before each treatment. I did develop a cough after treatment, they called it radiation pneumonitis, and I kept it for 6 months. That might not be a risk for you though. It went away, but I have noticed I tend to cough more now, even after a yr and a half. Cigarette and wood smoke bother me now, especially, and I get frequent chest colds in the cold and flu season. I think that is due to the radiation. Sorry so lengthy, hope it helps!

 
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:41 PM   #3
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Hi Virginia,

I'm very similar to you, I had a lumpectomy for DCIS followed by radiation. I completed my rad treatments on 8/11. I was terrified to start them - and I did mine in the prone position so I could avoid my lungs as much as possible - I have pretty severe asthma.

For me the treatments went pretty darn well. I continued to ride my horse in the heat and humidity during it. I started to get a sunburn after about 10-14 treatments and didn't feel tired until the last week and for a couple of weeks afterwards. You will definitely want to apply lotion - I used Aloe Vera Gel and Lindi products. Many people talked about success using emu oil from Montana. Sounds strange I know but many swear by it.

The treatments are so quick - totally painless - just the inconvenience of having to drive there every day for 6 weeks. I met some wonderful women there going through it together was nice - having people to see and talk to that are going through it.

I'm happy to share my experience or answer any questions... Now that i'm almost a month out - my skin is pretty much back to normal. I plan to start taking Tamoxifen in October. I'm not looking forward to that but it seems silly not to do everything I can.

I hope your simulation went well today. It just feels to odd and scary to be going through it. I know it is a tough time emotionally - so hang in there!!

Last edited by moderator2; 09-09-2010 at 08:57 PM.

 
Old 09-07-2010, 05:24 PM   #4
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Hi,

Thanks for the reply. Your experience sounds encouraging. The simulation went fine. I start my first treatment on September 13 and go for 6 weeks. I will ask them about acceptable lotions to use, if and when I start to show skin side effects. Luckily, the location of my treatments is only about 7 minutes from my home. My treatments, too, will be in the prone position. Still, the oncologist said some rib/lung exposure is inevitable. They will do all that they can to minimize it. Afterwards, I too will be on Tamoxifen. Will be interested in hearing how you are coping with it.

Last edited by moderator2; 09-09-2010 at 08:57 PM.

 
Old 09-08-2010, 09:07 PM   #5
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Hi,

I'm doing very well. How are you?

Not really looking forward to 6 weeks of radiation, but it will help protect me against reoccurence, so I'll endure it. Actually the Tamoxifen scares me more than the radiation. Some of the side effects are not good, but it seems only a small percentage of women have any serious problems while on it. Guess we should be thankful there are such drugs now to further reduce chances of reoccurrence.

Last edited by moderator2; 09-09-2010 at 08:55 PM.

 
Old 09-09-2010, 07:49 AM   #6
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Same here. I'm not looking forward to starting to take tamox in October. I'm' just now starting to feel back to normal where my life isn't centered around treatment which has been really nice.

Let me know how your first day goes. You'll be surprised how quick it is!

 
Old 09-10-2010, 07:17 PM   #7
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

After my lumpectomy and chemo, my oncologist recommended radiation as well. My cancer was a very aggressive type so we were doing all treatments to be thorough. I was told the exact same things you were. And it's not bad. The mapping as you know by now, is a long appointment involving pinpoint tatoos and lying still for a long while. That was the worst part. The radiation treatment itself is only about 5 minutes if that daily. I went in early, around 7:30 or 8 am, took my treatment and then went to work...I'm a teacher so I'm busy every day and I handled it with no problem. Now 4 years after my radiation treatments, there have been no long term side effects. You will probably get a bit of a "sunburn", but ask for some free samples from your radio-oncologist for medicated lotion or get a prescription. It helps keep your skin from being too dry. Good Luck!!!

 
Old 09-17-2010, 05:56 PM   #8
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Hi Virginia,
Just checking in, have you started your treatement? How did it go. Thinking of you.

 
Old 09-19-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Just finished my first week of radiation. No problems at all. I also met with the oncologist on Thursday. He meets with all patients each Thursday to see how you are, check you out, etc. I asked him again about possible damage to ribs and lung and he patiently answered all of my questions. He even showed me how the radiation is being applied, per the slides from my CAT scan when they did the mapping. It's only a very small portion of the lung that is even included, as well as a part of the ribs on that side. But he said any lung damage should be minor and will not give me long-term problems. He said that the part of the ribs that is exposed may be a bit more vulnerable should I suffer any trauma to that area, but otherwise they will be fine. The staff at this center is wonderful. I got some samples of creams to use and was told to use them now, even before any symptoms might arise.

CarolineNC- Have you had your first visit with your medical oncologist yet? I did and he wants me to have some pre-Tamoxifen blood work done. Has yours ordered the same tests? I'm thinking he wants them to establish a baseline and to make sure I'm otherwise in good health before starting Tamoxifen. I go back to see him in late October, just before the radiation treatments will be done. Once radiation is over, I will probably be starting on Tamoxifen.

 
Old 09-19-2010, 12:50 PM   #10
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGirl View Post
After my lumpectomy and chemo, my oncologist recommended radiation as well. My cancer was a very aggressive type so we were doing all treatments to be thorough. I was told the exact same things you were. And it's not bad. The mapping as you know by now, is a long appointment involving pinpoint tatoos and lying still for a long while. That was the worst part. The radiation treatment itself is only about 5 minutes if that daily. I went in early, around 7:30 or 8 am, took my treatment and then went to work...I'm a teacher so I'm busy every day and I handled it with no problem. Now 4 years after my radiation treatments, there have been no long term side effects. You will probably get a bit of a "sunburn", but ask for some free samples from your radio-oncologist for medicated lotion or get a prescription. It helps keep your skin from being too dry. Good Luck!!!
JollyGirl - Are you or have you been on Tamoxifen or any of the other anti-estrogen drugs? I don't need chemo, but was wondering if the treatment regimen is different if you've had chemo, as you have. Thanks for the feedback on radiation effects. I've already started using a cream that the nurse gave me a sample of. It's pretty expensive to order - $28 for a 2 oz. tube, but she said her patients love it. Haven't noticed any problems with skin yet, but it's only been a week since I've started my treatments.

 
Old 10-01-2010, 08:11 PM   #11
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

CarolineNC,

I'm just checking in to see how you are doing. I'm glad to hear that the rad treament is over. Good luck with the tamoxifan. Have you every thought about trying acupuncture if the side effects get to be too much. A young woman I know, about 42, said that her only problem was the night sweats.

I go back for my 6-month post-biopsies followup in November. My outlook is different since my mom died. I think I would just do double mastectomy with no radiation. But I am probably depressed.

Pat

 
Old 10-01-2010, 08:22 PM   #12
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfretzsch View Post
CarolineNC,

I'm just checking in to see how you are doing. I'm glad to hear that the rad treament is over. Good luck with the tamoxifan. Have you every thought about trying acupuncture if the side effects get to be too much. A young woman I know, about 42, said that her only problem was the night sweats.

I go back for my 6-month post-biopsies followup in November. My outlook is different since my mom died. I think I would just do double mastectomy with no radiation. But I am probably depressed.

Pat
Hi,

Actually I'm just in the middle of getting my rad treatments. Just completed treatment #15 out of 33. Won't start on Tamoxifen until after radiation is done, probably start it sometime in early November. The only side effects I've noticed from the rad treatments are a slight reddening of the skin in certain areas, but nothing very noticeable or severe. I use a special cream that I ordered "Jean's Cream", twice a day, and this seems to be really helping. I've also had a bit of fatigue but not too bad and not even every day. When it comes on, I just nap for a couple of hours and that seems to take care of it.
I am concerned about Tamoxifen, though. It has some annoying (e.g. night sweats) and some very scary side effects. Never suffered from hot flashes when I went through menopause and I sure hope I don't have the night sweats that so many seem to get with Tamoxifen. Of even greater concern is the risk for endometrial problems and/or blood clots. Medical oncologist also told me there is a slight, but increased, risk of developing cataracts. Yikes!
Does anyone have any stats about what percentage of women develop these more serious side effects while on Tamoxifen? I sometimes wonder if the risk is worth it.

 
Old 01-23-2011, 03:18 PM   #13
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Re: Radiation After DCIS - What Side Effects?

I had the same thing and radiation is a snap compared to the chemo. I had no real side affects except for as your Dr. said some mild burning which is like a sun burn and they will give you something for that. So rest assured the worst is over and you can now go on with your life. I did lose a few pounds during rads and that was a super plus. Take care.

 
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