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Making Decision on Radiation Treatment

johnilsr
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2001

hey folks,
my wife (39 years old) had a lumpectomy (0.5 cm) with clear margins and no indication of lymph node involvement. She is scheduled for her first radiation treatment next week and we are having some difficulty sorting through all of the information on the radiation portion of the treatment.

For example, the radiation oncologist has basically told us that the treatment will not result in any long term effects on her breast tissue - initial redness and skin thickening that will disappear over time. But then we find some literature that talks about long term effects like skin shrinkage and hardening of the breast tissue.

So, I thought that I would look for some real live people to give us some perspectives from the real live world on the impacts of radiation.

And another issue we are grappling with is whether or not the recommended 33 treatment radiation regimen is warranted in her case since the tumor was so small and there was no lymph node involvement. We have seen reference to a study that seemed to show that a 3 week radiation treatment was as effective as a 6.5 week treatment for someone in her situation. We haven't looked at the report yet (Whelen, T.J., MacKenzie, R.G, et.al. Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2000:19) but would welcome and comments from people who have seen it or related research.

Thanks for the help.

john.

jmears
Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi John

I just finished 33 sessions of radiation two weeks ago. I was pleseantly suprised that as fair as I am I had very mild redening of the skin and I don't feel any difference in the tissue at all yet. I do think my breast seems a little bit smaller and it's not from the surgery ... that was 6 months ago (before chemo). I haven't heard of the shortened treatments but it sounds like your wife caught the cancer really early and it was probably very isolated and that may be all she needs. Good luck!

isaiah4031
Posts: 243
Joined: Jun 2001

Hi John,
I have just finished 11 of 25 radiation treaments. I have not had any major side effects. The only side effects I have are occasional shooting pains, but they are not really uncomfortable and they are only once in a while. The onc said that was normal. I, too, had the lumpectomy and negative lymph nodes. My prayers are with you and your wife as you make your decision.
God bless you both,
Jayne

luckyj
Posts: 26
Joined: Apr 2001

Dear John, I had a lumpectomy, clean margins, no lymph node involvement but her2neu overexpression. I had 4 A/C chemo treatments, 6 1/2 weeks radiation and now tamoxifen. The radiation was easy for me, no burning just a few random sharp pains in the beginning. One year later my breast is still a bit tanned, slightly firmer, and I experience a bit of tissue/muscle tenderness in the pectoral area. It took me along time to get back to my favorite sleeping position on my tummy...but I'm back now. Napping really helped the tiredness I had with radiation unlike the fatigue with chemo that hangs on regardless of napping. I found it beneficial to use all the lotions and gels they recommended after each treatment. My tumor was small also and it took a few days of information gathering and talking to decide to use "everything" in the fight against breast cancer. I'm glad I did. I had tremendous faith in my medical team. Best of luck to you and your wife in whatever you choose. She is lucky to have you. My husband's name is also John...I'm lucky to have him. Love, Luckyj

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