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Breast enlargment,MRI sched, Doctors baffled

Posts: 12
Joined: May 2002

I wanted to know if anyone has experienced what I am going thru. I have been finished all my treatment, surg/chemo/rad on 01/10/2002(very proud of that, what a long road) and my breast began to swell 3 months after and has only gotten worse and now I am anemic. The oncologist and surgeon are not sure what to think because they say my breast should be better now. It is at least 2 1/2 times the size of the other one and painful and the areas of my incisions are getting harder and hurt. They put me on steriods and antibiotics with no results months ago and did an ultrasound and it showed no fluid and no tumor. MRI is next month. Does anyone know what could be happening. Could the cancer have grown through the whole breast? Thank you for replying

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001


You mentioned an oncologist and a surgeon. I think you posted before about this and I suggested you get another opinion or examination at another treatment center - preferably at a comprehensive cancer center accredited by the National Cancer Institute.

If the doctors are still baffled after the MRI, see another doctor. That's what I would do.

Sending you good wishes for an answer and relief from this.

Posts: 12
Joined: May 2002

Thanks for responding Jean. I,m kinda strapped with the doctors I have and I will wait to see what the MRI says. I jsut haven't read anywhere where someone has mentioned this reaction so late after radiation and just afraid something is going on and they are not responding as quick as I would like them to. :o)

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

I found this which was a presentation in Ottawa Cancer Centre in Canada.
What do you think about the CELLULITIS diagnosis?????

>>>Late side effects (Of radiation)

These are seen about 6 months to years after treatment and are usually permanent.

They are caused by slow degeneration of the blood supply to organs and/or glands, which can lead to damage or death of the organs or glands involved.

These are of concern because in some people they can be quite disabling and cause long term pain. They include

Chronic inflammation and fibrosis (scarring). Apart from breast cancer treatment, this can occur almost anywhere in the body.

Brachial plexus injury, or damage to the complex bundle of nerves under arm. Problems range from a sensation of "pins and needles" to total paralysis of the arm and hand, sometimes with severe pain. It is seen from 10 months to 4 years after radiotherapy.7

Lymphedema (accumulation of lymph fluid) in the arm on the side of treatment and swelling of the breast, or over the ribs or lower torso, which can be very uncomfortable. Lymph fluid can't circulate normally due to scar tissue from removal of lymph nodes and irradiation.

Cellulitis is a complication of lymphedema. Infection develops in the lymph fluid and surrounding tissues, such as the arm, chest wall, breast and shoulder. Lymph fluid is trapped by scar tissue and acts like an incubator where infection is hard to treat. This painful condition can become chronic, requiring long- term antibiotic treatment, for months or years.

A rare complication of lymphedema is lymphangio- sarcoma (secondary cancer) in the swollen arm.

Endarteritis obliterans: blocking of small and medium arteries, with subsequent scarring or damage to organs or glands which they supplied. These organs or glands may stop working years after radiotherapy.

Matchline fibrosis (inflammation and scarring) where radiation fields have overlapped, such as in the pectoral muscle, limiting shoulder movement, or rib fractures which can happen without symptoms.

Pericarditis8 (inflammation of the membrane around the heart)

There is concern of risk of secondary malignancies, eg. breast cancer, leukemia and sarcoma1 and others such as lung and esophageal cancer.
Please let us know what you find out.

Posts: 235
Joined: Oct 2001

Hi, dear, I have not had exactly what you are talking about, but I did read on another site a woman whose mother's breast was as hard as marble. Just like stone with skin. It was enlarged too. The docs were just as baffled as yours are. Get thee to another center, or, at least, go on line and find out where the "leading edge" work is being done on this problem. It doesn't sound like it had any connection to cancer. It sounds like treatment residue. I have costochondritis, an inflammation between the ribs and the chest wall and have had it for 3 & 1/2 years altho they say it should only last 3 to 6 months. Two broken ribs because the rads soften the bones. This all was news to me! No one mentioned anything like this before treatment. Bottom line, I am sure it is not cancer, but nevertheless you need to find out what it is and what you can do. At UCLA they have you bring all your slides, mammo's, records (you can get these with a signed authorization) and send them on ahead and then they see you for just one day. This cuts the costs way down as you don't have to pay for the whole nine yards over again. But, you get a whole galaxy of new docs and oncs who have never seen you before. I am a strong believer in "new eyes", as the old docs have just run out of ideas, obviously. Get thee elsewhere! God bless you and keep you safe, your sister, Shirlann

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