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Internal Radiation

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

Has anyone had high dose internal radiation and if so what side effects did you have, such as a necessary colostomy etc...

beckyracn's picture
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Hi Lir, I had 5 doses of internal radiation at the tail end of my external radiation and chemo treatments. I had a great team, doc and nurses, that made me as comfortable as possible. It was a little degrading, you have something in every body orifice except mouth and ears. The facility I went to performed minor surgery and placed the necessary parts internally so that I would not have to have an epidural and parts placed every treatment. It cut the treatment time down from a full day to approx. 4 hours. I was given numerous IV meds prior to the treatment to make me as comfortable as possible. I didn't experience any increased side effects at the time of treatment as the external radiation had already created much havoc. A week after treatments ended, I went back to the doc to have the internal mechanism removed and she fitted me for a dilator that I would have to use for the rest of my life to help keep scar tissue to a minimum. This was a surprise for me, because I wasn't told about this prior to treatments; or maybe I was but just missed that conversation. Scar tissue still built up, but so far so good. Physical exams are not too bad, but intercourse is quite painful. There is stuff out there to help keep this to a minimum...and taking a pain pill prior. Hope all goes well for you. (((HUGS)))

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you so much for your reply and info. I`m supposed to start the internal next week, but am full of questions so you helped educate me! I`ve had the chemo and external (just finished) and felt that I was being rushed into this part of treatment, but will talk to Dr. extensively before starting. I`ve heard such horror stories but am so glad yours went well!

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

HI I have had the internal radiation and agree it makes one feel degraded and it is very uncomfortable. Make sure you use the restroom and if you are experiencing any loose bowels use your treatment for that beforehand. And always ask questions and if you feel like you can not go through with it tell the staff they will be understanding and help you through it I was very blessed to have the most awesome nurse and she was like an angel from heaven and one day I went and said no ,, and she made it possible for me to come back later in the week because I was having a break down emotionally. I had no one to really support me I had been seeing a real sweet guy before this all took place and he was not much help except he came and got me and let me sleep at his house a few times after ward because of the emotional problems I had and I wanted to hide it from my kids at the time I had 2 daughters ages 11 and 13 and 2 sons ages 16 and 19 and they were in school and doing all the chores and seeing their mom deteriorate basically in front of them due to I went from 170 lbs down to 130 lbs in just a few months. I was able to wear a size medium in junior girls clothes and was wearing a size 18 in ladies before this all started due to I was bleeding internally and did not know it and my stomach was bloated out so badly. I had only 6.5 blood count and the normal is like 13.7. The doctors were like how did you even stand up and I was working full time job in a full service very busy deli at the time. I feel that I was very healthy and the cancer just took me down all at once.
So what I would say for advice on the internal treatments is talk talk talk ask ask ask leave nothing out and make sure you dont feel pressured or like this is something you absolutely have to do in the doctors convenience ,, do it when you are comfortable and ready. I hope it all goes well for you and pray I did lots of praying and remember you are never alone we as women are all in this together!!! ((hugs)) to you

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I have uterine cancer and the HDR may be different for different cancers. I had 28 rounds of external pelvic IMRT radiation, followed by 3 internal vaginal brachys. If your clinic uses CT-scans to position you each time for the HDR brachys, instead of X-rays, you are spared the catheter and rectal marker and only have the vaginal tube. That cuts down a LOT on the degradation and humiliation factor. I was in and out of the clinic each time within an hour, with the radioactive material actually in me less than 10 minutes. I have absolutely NO side effects, and was even able to have painless sex (taking it easy!) between treatments. I do use a dilator every day that I am not sexually active, and so far, so good. I just had my last brachy July 1st, so I don't know long-term. (I just laze in bed an extra 10 minutes each morning to do my 'physical therapy' with the dilator, and almost fall back to sleep waiting out the 10 minutes. It's no big deal, at least not compared to everything else we go through. The dilator is like inserting a tampon; you just stick in in and wait 10 minutes and remove it.)

You'll be surprised at how do-able the high-dose radiation is. It's worth travelling to get the IMRT radiation if you have to do external rads too, if your insurance will cover it. The IMRT uses computer-controlled shields to protect your unaffected tissue and bones from 'friendly fire' damage. And the CT-positioned internal brachys saves you from the 'multiple orifice' yukiness. So ask questions and shop around. BIG HUG!

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you so much for replying. I don`t know yet which way I will be receiving the internal but your info certainly gave more questions for the doc! I`m just so leery due to friends of mine who went through this and had major side effects. My best wishes for you and thanks again

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi Lir,

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in Nov. 2008. (There was some debate about the stage--it was invasive in my cervix and was in situ in the upper portion of my vagina---but either 1b2 or IIa.) Anyway, I had the following treatment:
25 external radiation
6 chemo
5 internal radiation

My only problem with the internal treatments is that I ended up with cystitis near the end of my external treatments and had to go through the internal treatments still having it. I was miserable, but found out about Vesicare afterward and that stuff really helped.

I finished with HDR brachytherapy on March 5th. As of this post, I can say that I generally feel pretty great. I wish you the best of luck with whatever treatment you go through.

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