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DCIS removed & now wondering about radiation side effects, long & short-term

Hi! I'm in British Columbia. You can read my profile re: my story rather than me type it out again :) I am wondering about long and short term effects from radiation. Has anyone declined radiation? Has anyone used anything considered a ‘natural remedy?’ My surgeon believes she got all the cancer out, but the radiation is offered as insurance. Thank you in advance for sharing your story.

12 Replies

@Redwingblackbird Like you, I had DCIS, but I had IDC as well. I had surgery, chemo and radiation. I had no major problems with any of them. There were side effects but they weren't anything I couldn't handle. Having said that, everyone responds differently.

I had 25 radiation treatments. My skin did get pink. It threw off a lot of heat like a bad sunburn. I did have a bit of peeling. Some women have lot stronger reactions

There are a lot of different products available to use now that weren't necessarily available when I had treatments in 2011.

The radiation was on my left side. I don't have any issues with my heart. I have also heard there are some changes in technique to help reduce the risk even more.

@ashcon had a film that was used that I had never heard of before. Treatments can very from city to city and province to province.

Decisions are never easy. I chose to do radiation because I wanted to believe that I had done everything to overcome my cancer but sometimes the benefit might be little. It'san important conversation to have with your doctor. There are pros and cons to everything and you have to do what is right for you.

When do you have to make your decision?

Cancertakesflight

ACH2015
2437 Posts

Hi @Redwingblackbird

I'd like to share links from the Canadian Cancer Society with you that talk about conventional treatments vs natural remedies regarding cancer treatment:

https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/resources/glossary/a/alternative-therapy

https://cancer.ca/en/treatments/complementary-therapies/naturopathic-medicine

https://cancer.ca/en/treatments/complementary-therapies/what-are-complementary-therapies

Some good information that will hopefully help you in your decision making process. Perhaps also discuss this with your medical team, as to risk / benefits of conventional vs natural remedies. As I always say, knowledge is power.

Keep well

ACH2015

ashcon
2186 Posts

@Redwingblackbird

Congratulations on getting your cancer caught early - that's such good news!

I'm not a doctor, but I'm not too familiar with “natural” alternatives to radiation therapy. Aside from healthy living, eating, etc and even that's not a guarantee!

I had a stage 3 advanced invasive and ductal carcinoma, so got every treatment in the book thrown at me, including 25 rounds of radiation. I had a double mastectomy too which made it easier to use the Mepitel film that @cancertakesflight mentions and was offered to me by my cancer centre. (see attached).

I still suffered from some skin problems (though not as bad as what would have been without the film). And I developed hypothyroidism which I believe was a side effect of the radiation, though my doctors don't think there is a relation to it.

If your radiation is more preventative in nature, it may not be as intense as what I endured.

It may be a question of asking yourself this : if the cancer does come back again someday, will you be ok with undergoing treatments again? Or will you be kicking yourself for not doing the radiation now?

Vec
1 Posts

@Redwingblackbird The best advice I received was to start applying cream to my skin prior to radiation, and I mean weeks before. Apply the cream to your entire breast and your back. It worked for me. The cancer pamphlet recommends different types of creams. The one I used was called Glaxo Base which I purchased at Costco (also available at the drugstore but more expensive). The radiation side-effect that I found hardest was the breast pain after radiation. My nerves were damaged so I had sharp pains that seemed to come and go for about 2 months after I finished radiation. I panicked when I first felt the pain and thought my cancer was back. After a few weeks and several calls to the patient help line, I learned to relax, take over the counter pain meds, and eventually the pains stopped. I wish you well.

supersu
1369 Posts

@Redwingblackbird
good morning neighbor.

my radiation on the left side breast happened in July 2020.

0-4 weeks, (while I was receiving therapy): redness, blisters, swelling and unfortunately some open wounds
4-6 weeks: wounds healed with no scars
6-12 months: breast returns to normal size
1-2 years: skin has a different ‘feel’--like it's ‘tight’, no color left in the nipple/aureola area, feels lumpy and bumpy, some intermittent pains


(I have had all the above looked at by my medical team, and had dignostic imaging to rule out anything nefarious. all is well.)

I hope you have a smooth ride…lots of moisture has been suggested - I think that is a major help.
I would add, do range of motion exercises to keep everything engaged. I know even with all my exercise I did experience some stiffness and reduced ROM.

let us know how things move along for you.

cheers
su

#radiationtherapy #breastchanges #breastcancer #moisturize #ROMexercises

Jamiwark
25 Posts

@Redwingblackbird I saw my radiation doctor yesterday and I will begin on Oct 11. He said I can opt for 16 treatments instead of 28 because I don’t plan on reconstruction in the future and this is considered the clean up to hopefully get rid of cells still there after surgery and chemo . My case is more complicated than yours ,but if I were you I would do radiation for peace of mind . For me I don’t have a choice if I don’t the chances for recurrence is much higher . Follow your heart ❤️

@cancertakesflight thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m not sure when I need to make my decision by. I see the radiation oncologist near the end of October.

@ACH2015 thank you.

@ashcon Thanks for sharing your story. How long after your last radiation treatment did you have skin irritation for?

@Vec thanks for sharing your experience. I really appreciate it.

@supersu thank you for sharing.

@Redwingblackbird

Hello

I thought I would share my experience as I am now 11 years out from completion of treatment. I was diagnosed with IDC on the left breast with lymph node involvement. I also have a history of heart surgery when I was 2.

I had a lumpectomy, axillary dissection, 6 chemo and 30 + radiation treatments ( the last few with boosters to the lymph nodes ) Short term side effects were like a dark sun tan to the the one breast along with quite severe burns around my clavicle where the lymph nodes were targeted. It took about a year for the “tan” to go away and match the other breast again. With steroid creams and diligent care, the clavicle burns cleared up and left no scarring.

Long term effects - I still have a little bit of tightness in the armpit and shoulder blade - some of that is from the armpit surgery, some likely from radiation. But I have done stretching and exercise ever since and it really hasn't affected my life in any major way. And I have had no recurrence to date * knocks on wood *

For myself, I needed to feel like I threw everything at it. I didn't want to stew about it nor question my decision if I didn't and then had a recurrance. That is me - that is what worked best for me and my worry personality. Knowing your own personality and tendencies will no doubt help guide you into the right decision for you.

Keep us posted

Lianne

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