CSN Login
Members Online: 13

Question for those of you that finished External Radiation

npl8261
Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2009

On Wednesday I finished 5 weeks of External Radiation but have been dealing with an awful side effect and want to know if others had this happen as well. I woke up last Tuesday and went in for my early morning radiation but soon after it I started getting the symptoms of a UTI. On Wednesday for my last treatment I was put on medicine for a UTI but it doesn't seem to be working and now I wonder if it really isn't a UTI but more damage done to my bladder from the Radiation. Did any of you experience this and if so how soon did it go away?

On Monday I will call the doctor and see what he says but I would like to hear from anyone else that experienced this. I really hope this is a temporary side effect because it is very difficult to deal with. I have a constant feeling of needing to go the bathroom.

Lisa 00
Posts: 108
Joined: Jul 2009

Oh, hun, get yourself over to the drug store and get some of those pills for relief of the urgency and burn of a UTI. Each store even has their own house brand and the box will say "for relief of urinary urgency" or something like that. I think what they are is some sort of anesthetic that soothes things when you pee so you have to wait a bit of time and until you actually pee after taking the pills for real relief. So take them then drink a lot of water so you'll pee.

I used them from time to time during my external radiation. But mostly, just drinking lots and lots of water seemed to keep a real UTI at bay. Even with lots of water, I still had a little irritation, pain almost when peeing, but my weekly urine tests never came up with a UTI.

It has now been 2 weeks since my last external radiation treatment and I still have a little urinary irritation. In fact, just today I was peeing, felt it and thought to myself that I need to drink more water than I have been. At least my diarrhea is now gone! I've been told that the urinary irritation will go away in time.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I had 28 rounds of IMRT external pelvic radiation (finished up July 1st) and never had any urinary problems. I did have diahrea throughout the weeks of radiation, but if I stayed on the low fiber diet, it was never bad enough to keep me home and I only took Immodium once or twice. I lost 7 pounds during external radiation, (more a reaction to my loss of my voracious chemo appetite than the diahrea) which I have since re-gained (BOO!) Prior to having cancer I also never had any kind of URI, so maybe I am just not prone to them. I religiously drank 64+ ounces of water every day throughout my treatments and drank a glass of cranberry juice each morning on my way to radiation. I think all of that helped. Sorry you are suffering with this. Did you have IMRT or convention extrenal radiation?

cleo
Posts: 122
Joined: Sep 2009

I had 6 weeks of radio and had no problem directly after but find that I am susceptible since.
I head straight to the Dr at first sign as it is too uncomfortable to leave. Instant relief.
I also drink a lot of 50/50 cranberry/water in hot weather as I'm fine during the winter months!!

Deblittleton's picture
Deblittleton
Posts: 56
Joined: Feb 2009

Congrats NPL on finishing your last external radiation treatment. I had 5 wks of external radiation and no urinary problems. I did have diarrhea problems from the 3rd wk on and still do. (One wk post internal radiation.) Lomotil is my friend and take 1-2 tabs a day. Getting pretty sick of the low fiber diet thing and sometimes I eat what I want. I'm sure that doesn't help with the GI problems. One thing I have done since day one was drink lots and lots of water and cran-grape juice. Hope your symptoms go away soon.

howdybooth
Posts: 44
Joined: Aug 2009

Did any of you try or where allowed to eat tofu while on the low fiber diet during ext. radiation? My sister has some other complications (by pass surgery) that makes eating meat hard. I know tofu is made from soybeans but I read that the fiber content is very low.

npl8261
Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2009

Thank you again everyone for responding. I am now one week out of External Radiation and starting to feel normal again. The extreme fatique that I felt during radiation is gone and most of the other unpleasant side effects have either gone away or diminished greatly. I still have the urinary issue but I have been told that will pass soon as well.

It really feels great to know that so much of my treatment is behind me. Next week I go in for Brachytherapy. I have started a regular acupuncture treatment once a week and will do that for at least 3 months for both dealing with the side effects of treatment and general maintenance.

Again thank you to all for your suggestions. I find this discussion board just so helpful.

deanna14
Posts: 734
Joined: Oct 2008

I had 5 weeks of external radiation and 3 weekly brachy internal radiation treatments. I have continually had urinary issues, bladder irritation, a couple of confirmed UTI's, urgency and yes sometime incontinence. I have to quit drinking liquids early in the evening... otherwise I go, I go, I go all night long, every couple of hours. Also, if I drink much in the evening, by the time I wake up, I can't stand up without urine leaking.
The rad/onc says it is not anything caused by the radiation, it must be a side effect of your surgery. The gyn/onc says it is nothing he did when he did my hyst... "it must be decreased bladder capacity due caused by the radiation.
I am coming up with ideas and practice of how to deal with this, as neither of these doctors want to own it and try to help me with it!

cleo
Posts: 122
Joined: Sep 2009

Deanna - I had external radiation and as I also had a couple of tumours in the bladder was well blasted in that area. I have had no urinary repercussions from that [other than not being able to go through the night without a loo trip] apart from a couple of yearly cystitis episodes.

Lisa 00
Posts: 108
Joined: Jul 2009

Deanna,
I was fine throughout all radiation treatments (5 weeks external, 2 times internal) and only developed a little bit of burning when peeing during radiation treatments. BUT

About a week after the last internal radiation I developed what absolutely felt like a UTI. I have had experience with UTI's and was certain the test would come back positive but it didn't. So I stayed on the pyridine pills and waited. In all, I had the UTI, more intense burning and more often had to "go" for a little over 2 weeks.

Along with this problem I too had some incontinence, mostly in the morning when my bladder was full when I woke up. Just a little dribble. But that also went away about the same time the UTI feeling did.

I too feel my bladder capacity is smaller after the hysterectomy. I think it is the same as it was before the radiation through. I think that during the surgery the surgeon does some sort of procedure to help hold the bladder up so that it doesn't fall which has the side effect of constricting it some and making the capacity smaller. Not sure though.

On your docs not owning it, the UTI feeling and the incontinence is definately the radiation guy's property in my opinion. The decreased bladder capacity is the surgeon's, again in my opinion.

Hopefully someone has told you of the pyridine tablets that help with the burning. They're available at the drug store. I took them constantly for 2 weeks.

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1397
Joined: Jan 2009

Sorry to hear you are still having problems with urination. When I go to the radiation onocologist he always asks if I have any bowel or urinary problems. Luckily I do not. So I would think that urinary problems can happen after radiation. Have you tried doing the Kegel exercises that Marie mentioned a couple of weeks ago? It would probably help with the dribbling. Hope this problem gets better for you.

Did your second biopsy results turn out okay? It is good to hear from you again and see your beautiful smile. How is the hair situation? In peace and caring.

lociee's picture
lociee
Posts: 103
Joined: Apr 2009

In response to radiation/urination woos. I had 25 external - and 8 blasts to a tumor. I went in not really aware of the long term effects. Treatments were over at the end of May. Now I have extreme pain in my right hip and down my right leg. I'm getting an MRI on Friday to see if I have bone fractures. I hobble around! My stomach NEVER stops gurgling and
screeching. When I need to go - I need to go FAST - so I can't go anywhere that does not have toilet access. I probably urinate 50 times a day. It turns out that radiation isn't just radiation. I thought that 25 times was the usual. I did not know about the various strengths. For instance I found out later that I was given a high dosage because I had an existing tumor. I would have chosen the low dosage because I'm not willing to go for a cure that causes too many side effects. Now I'm scared of the future. I have visions of myself using a WALKER! I already knew that the cancer could not be cured - but please let me - go gently into this goodnight!

Teresa 61's picture
Teresa 61
Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2008

I also have pain in my right leg and hip. Had radiation and chemo, finished treatments june 25, 2009. This pain started around Sept 1. I can barely lift my right leg to get my pants on,when I get out of bed I have to shuffle to the bathroom and usually don't get there without peeing all over myself. I'am taking Hydroco/with Ibufrofin 2 to 3 times aday, my family doctor thinks I have a herniated disc... i think it's from the treatments. he wanted me to get an MRI,I won't be doing that till Jan 2010 as I've used up most of my $50,000.00 insurance for this year. I see my gyno/onc Monday for my 3 month check-up.. needless to say , I'am very nervous.
It was nice to hear from you all... Teresa

kellyw314
Posts: 51
Joined: Jan 2007

I too had 27 external treatments 3 years ago - about 8 months after treatment, I awoke with extreme pain in my lower right back - following weeks of pain with little relief, I had an MRI - I had a fractured right sacrum which did heal in about 10 weeks - I still have pain after standing or walking for a longer time, but can recover quickly by sitting down - analysis: sacrum was weakened by radiation and there is no way to protect this bone if having pelvic radiation = good news: I am cancer free 3.5 years from surgery - never suffered urinary issues, but some bowel issues which improved in the first year following treatment

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1397
Joined: Jan 2009

Teresa I am sorry you are having such leg and hip pain. I think about you often, as we had the same sandwich treatment and you started your treatment just a little ahead of me. Hope your pain gets better, as does your urinary frequency. Good luck with your three month check-up. I pray that everything will go well for you. What are they doing for the check-up. I will have lab work next week, two months after my last chemo. Then in another month will have a CT scan. I can't believe you have only used $50,000 dollars for treatments. Mine is close to $200,000 what was charged and $100,000 that was paid. We have a deductible of $10,000, so I am glad insurance pays 100% after our deductible is met. It is unreal what the facilities charge. In peace and caring.

Teresa 61's picture
Teresa 61
Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2008

$50,000 a year is all my insurance will pay....between dec 2008 and now they have paid $100,000. the rest is on me paying and the hospital giving me some discounts. I don't have urinary freguency, I can't walk very well because of my leg pain so it's difficult for me to make it to the bathroom in time..I'am not sure what tests my gyno/onc will do. Pretty sure it's just a vaginal and a blood test. Good luck with your labs.. Teresa

lociee's picture
lociee
Posts: 103
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Teresa, it seems like we have the same reaction to radiation. I had an MRI a few months ago when I first started complaining of the pain - they then told me it was my back and not radiation. However, the problems with my back were the same as shown in a previous MRI - before radiation. This pain is different. I struggle to put on my right sock because my right leg has limited mobility. Also - it gets worse at night - it wakes me up. Does that happen to you??
I had a pelvic MRI on Friday - have a doc appointment on Thursday of the coming week. So most likely will not get results until then. I do have a feeling that they like to sort of - blame the back! Sometimes I feel like my right leg is going to disintegrate at the top where it's joined to the hip - it's so weak there. Do you get that feeling, too? I am lucky that nobody ever mentions $. My health plan does not seem to have put any restrictions on me. It could be that they feel guilty that they miss diagnosed for two years and am afraid I'll sue.

Teresa 61's picture
Teresa 61
Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2008

Hi Lociee, it does sound like we have the same pain. Yes, the pain wakes me up at night, at about 1:30 am. I have to sit down to put my right sock on and have to hold on to something to get my right leg up enough to get my pants on. I get in the car butt first put my left leg in then have to lift my right leg with both hands to get it in the car.From my knee up I have a numb achy feeling, even with pain pills the pain in my leg lower back and hip does not go completely away. Here's hoping we get relief from this soon.... Teresa

lociee's picture
lociee
Posts: 103
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Teresa - it is the same! I also have to lift my right leg - and pain killers have almost no effect. I will definitely let you know the results of my MRI. Hopefully all will be revealed on Thursday when I meet with my oncologist - who, by the way, is my chemo doctor. The radiologist continues to insist that the pain is NOT from radiation.

Teresa 61's picture
Teresa 61
Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2008

Hi Lociee, I have an appointment tomorrow with my gyno/onc and I'am going to let her know you have the same pain as me....thank you ahead of time for posting your MRI results.
Take Care, Teresa

lociee's picture
lociee
Posts: 103
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Teresa, I've tried sending this info twice. Hopefully this time it will go through. My MRI showed the following:
Right gluteus minimus and left gluteus medius tendinopathy - more pronounced on right side (hence the pain
in hip and down leg) Also, Bilateral sacroiliac joint degenerative change - more pronounced on the right. Now.....
radiation was 25 all over pelvic area - and 7 boosts to the tumor on the right of my colon near the sacrum.
Both the radiaologist and my regular oncologist say this development is NOT related to radiation.
I disagree. None of these things showed up on my pre-radiation MRI. Also checked with the a friend (a doctor) and he
says that these developments clearly came - or at least were provoked by radiation. The good news is that
the tendinopathy can get better. He said to take Motrin/Advil/or Napasin in large doses - that will be good for
the swelling - also don't lift anything - take it easy - it will take a few months for things to recede.
How are you doing? And, did you get any helpful feedback from your gyno?

Teresa 61's picture
Teresa 61
Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2008

lociee, thank you so much for sharing your mri results. My gyn/onc told me my pain was not from cancer treatments and that I needed an mri.I also told her about you and I having the exact pain after treatments, she more or less just brushed me off. I still believe this was provoked from the treatments. I'am happy to say that after almost 2 months of this I'am feeling 90 percent better. I hope that you are too.Thank you again for posting your results, it meant alot to me... Teresa

lociee's picture
lociee
Posts: 103
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi Teresa - I responded earlier but it didn't register. I'm wondering if it's the same problem again. Anyway, I poured my heart out in the previous comment - so..... now I'm feeling a little vulnerable. Anyway, I'm so pleased that you're 90% better. That's huge! I would say that I'm 50% better - but that's good, too. The sacrum pain is still bad. I should not have done the blasts to the tumor - but they said if I didn't I would be dead in 9-12 months. But I didn't want to trade cancer for a life time of pain. Do you get that? Most people do not. Now they want me to take Hormonal therapy and back to taxol - I think I'm done. My real name is Mia - (Lociee is the name of my old kitty).

kkstef's picture
kkstef
Posts: 706
Joined: May 2008

Deanna.....I know what you are experiencing. I had 30 external radiation and I continue to have urinary urgency. If my bladder is full I sometimes have some incontinence as well...I NEVER had that problem before. I don't have the frequency issue you do. I have associated it with the radiation as I did not have that problem right after the surgery. I was told it would get better....but I finished radiation a year ago!!!

So far, I am still waiting!!!

Karen

california_artist
Posts: 850
Joined: Jan 2009

Here is what I put in the Google search to find these references:

radiation treatment incontinence

and these are some of the reports that showed up. If you look farther on the page of the report for references, you can find other studies and such.

This appears to be from the National Institute of Health (nih.gov)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3725241?dopt=

Abstract Urodynamic changes in urethrovesical function after radical hysterectomy.
Scotti RJ, Bergman A, Bhatia NN, Ostergard DR.

Twelve patients undergoing radical hysterectomy were comprehensively evaluated urodynamically pre- and postoperatively using sensitive instrumentation, including microtip transducers. Five patients developed genuine stress incontinence, four developed loss of bladder compliance, three developed motor deficits consisting of either inability to relax the urethra or inability to initiate or maintain a vesical contraction, two developed impaired urinary flow, three had persistent excessive residual urine volumes, and two developed bladder sensory loss. These changes persisted beyond the one-year follow-up period. The degree of urethrovesical dysfunction bore no significant relationship to the radicality of the hysterectomy.
PMID: 3725241 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Actually, if your doctors are unaware of this possible result of the surgery, which they might be, you could show some of these studies to them and it might help the next fellow traveler in line. At least they might not so easily dismiss their role or responsibility in how you feel and might also not be so quick to dismiss your claim all together. How many things are "all in our minds and a few antidepressants will fix us right up?" and how many of those pills go right in the trash, cause, I'm sorry but pee is never in your mind!

I'm sorry. I'm part Sicilian and I'm from New York City. It doesn't get any more honest or real than that. Ask any New Yorker. It's our burden to carry. Someone asks a question, I have to try to find the answer.

Here's another:

Urethral pressure profiles following radical hysterectomy.
Sasaki H, Yoshida T, Noda K, Yachiku S, Minami K, Kaneko S.

Urethral function following radical hysterectomy was studied by chronologic analysis of the urethral pressure profile. Thirty patients who had radical hysterectomy were divided into 2 groups according to the degree of preservation of the plexus pelvicus at operation. The method of complete preservation is described. Urethral pressure profiles showed a significant postoperative decrease of mean maximum urethral closure pressure in the group of 20 patients with bilateral nerve transection; this was not found in the group of 10 patients with complete preservation of the plexus pelvicus. The decrease was ascribed to possible damage of sympathetic nerves originating from the hypogastric nerve. The results indicated that postoperative abnormalities in urination are caused by damage not only to the parasympathetic nerves (the pelvis nerve) but to the sympathetic nerves (the hypogastric nerve) as well.

here's another one:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/u101965567n3l1g8/

Stress-overflow urinary incontinence after radical hysterectomy and radiation therapy for cervical cancer

(1) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Graz, Austria
(2) Department of Neurology, University of Graz, Austria

Abstract A 40-year-old woman was evaluated for urinary incontinence, loss of bladder sensation and residual urine 12 months after radical abdominal hysterectomy and external pelvic radiation therapy for stage IIb cervical cancer. The patient had no history of abnormal lower urinary tract function before treatment. The urodynamic follow-up study at 12 months showed 80 ml of residual urine, low bladder compliance (detrusor pressure of 77 cmH2O at 200 ml filling) and an incompetent urethral closure mechanism. Cystoscopy showed a pale bladder mucosa with telangiectasia. Two years later the urodynamic findings were almost unchanged, and pudendal nerve terminal motor latency measured according to Snooks and Swash showed prolonged motor latency to the external urethral sphincter. Thus, this patient had combined stress overflow incontinence with pudendal neuropathy and fibrosis of the bladder wall.

Just something to think about when you're trying to solve problems.

Love and kisses,

Claudia

california_artist
Posts: 850
Joined: Jan 2009

Hey, there,
url: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060117112406.htm
In case you want to look further. There were also a number of board with discussions.

Herr' what I typed in Google search: hysterectomy bowel incontinence to get this thrilling article. : ^ )

Women's Silent Health Problem: Study Finds Fecal Incontinence Is Prevalent
ScienceDaily (Jan. 17, 2006) — It's a topic that is discussed so infrequently -- for reasons that are easy to understand -- that it may seem it isn't much of a problem. But new research shows that fecal incontinence is prevalent among U.S. women, especially those in older age groups, those who have had numerous babies, women whose deliveries were assisted by forceps or vacuum devices, and those who have had a hysterectomy.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
See also:
Health & Medicine
•Healthy Aging
•Urology
•Diseases and Conditions
•Gynecology
•Menopause
•Women's Health
Reference
•Fecal incontinence
•Hysterectomy
•Menopause
•Urinary incontinence
Many women in the study who had fecal incontinence also had another medical condition, such as major depression or diabetes, and often experienced urinary incontinence in addition to FI. The findings are reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Increased attention should be paid to this debilitating condition, especially considering the aging of our population and the available treatments for FI," says senior author Dee E. Fenner, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and director of gynecology, at the University of Michigan Medical School. "It is very important to the health of women that clinicians are aware of the prevalence of FI and can treat their patients accordingly."

The study, led by the University of Washington, was a postal survey of 6,000 women ages 30-90 who were enrolled in a large HMO in Washington state (the condition also affects men, but only women were involved in the study). Of the 64 percent who responded, the prevalence of FI was found to be 7.2 percent, with the occurrence increasing notably with age. FI was defined as loss of liquid or solid stool at least monthly.

The study was the first, to the authors' knowledge, to examine major depression as a potential risk factor for FI. They say FI could be a contributing factor to major depression in some cases, and major depression could be a contributing factor to FI in other cases.

FI can occur after damage to the anal sphincter muscles or scarring to the rectum, causing it to be unable to hold stool. Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and some other conditions can cause this scarring to occur. Another contributing factor can be the stretching of the nerves that supply the sphincters, called the pudendal nerves, which can occur with childbirth, old age, trauma, or with medical diseases that affect the nerves, such as diabetes. Without intact nerves to stimulate the sphincters, the sphincters may undergo atrophy.

Because of the nature of the condition, people who have FI often do not discuss it with their doctors, experts say. That is why the study's authors encourage clinicians to take a more active role in finding out if their patients are experiencing FI, especially among patients age 50 or older. They note that while FI is present in many elderly women, it should not be considered merely a normal part of aging. They also encourage women to discuss the issue with their doctors.

It also is important for women and their doctors to be aware of the conditions that often go along with FI. Researchers found that women in the study with FI were more likely to have:

•A higher number of deliveries
•Urinary incontinence
•A previous hysterectomy
•Another medical condition as well, such as major depression or diabetes
•A history of operative vaginal delivery, such as those using forceps or a vacuum-assisted device.
The impact of incontinence on the quality of life of the respondents was "significant," says Fenner, who is one of the founders of the Michigan Bowel Control Program at the University of Michigan Health System. "We found that half of the subjects with FI reported that their bowel symptoms had a large impact on their quality of life," she notes.

Treatments that can help people manage FI can range from changes in diet and exercise, to medications that improve the formation of stools, to surgery that repairs the sphincter muscles. In some cases, an artificial bowel sphincter can be implanted under the skin to mimic the natural function of the anal sphincter. Biofeedback -- which involves daily exercises to improve the strength of muscles used to hold back a bowel movement -- also is an option for some patients.

The lead author of the study was Jennifer L. Melville, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. In addition to Melville and Fenner, other authors were Ming-Yu Fan, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and Katherine Newton, Ph.D., of the Center for Health Studies at the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound of Seattle.

###
The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health, and a project-specific grant from Pharmacia Corporation.

Citation: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dec. 2005, vol. 193, 2071-6.

For more information about fecal incontinence: www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/umfecal.htm

For more information about the Michigan Bowel Control Program: www.med.umich.edu/bowelcontrol/about/fecal_incont.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adapted from materials provided by University of Michigan Health System.

Personally, I just love the work the University of Michigan is doing. Especially on ginger and cancer. Dr. Lui spelling not so sure.

california_artist
Posts: 850
Joined: Jan 2009

laugh so hard!

Jill,

I do the research finding, but if the topic doesn't apply to me, I just skim through the first few paragraphs. But, your comment about not yet being a candidate for an artificial sphincter muscle, well, I'm still chuckling over that one.

Hey, if you give me an email, I'd be happy to tell you about the what, why and wherefore, of myself, don't want to bore these girls with that stuff. I'm in what I call the meanest little town in America. It's in the U.P. of Michigan. People here are routinely denied benefits that would help them or their families. I can't even go into it, it's so horrific. I plan on moving to Oregon the first part of next year.

Or here's my email,

claudiaallen27@yahoo.com

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network