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Cellulitis

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

Has anyone else had cellulitis? I understand this is not unusual for cancer survivors. My first experience with it was 5 months after treatment ended in March '08. I have had 2 other bouts since then. Is this coincidence or another unexpected kind of side effect?

ACW189
Posts: 24
Joined: Feb 2009

YES, I have had it as well. I'm so glad someone else has experienced this. My surgeon kept shaking his head and said, this was very odd...unusual to see this. Well, I had it once a few days following surgery for a fistula repair and again a month later. I finished treatment for stage I anal canal cancer in May09 and then developed an abscess Sept09 with subsequent fistula & surgery in Nov09. The cellulitis in both cases was preceded by flu like symptons; fever/chills. This disappeared but then I had a rash on my buttock and inner thigh - different thigh each time. The first occurrence was not treated and was better in a few days. The second occurrence was treated with an antibiotic. The surgeon said it could have been caused by bacteria entering into the open wound.

Hope yours was manageable.
ACW

Beekay1280
Posts: 10
Joined: Dec 2009

I was just treated for cellulitis, it came on so fast. My treatment for anal cancer was done June 09 and in July I got a case of the shingles, then October had a high fever and chills, in Jan 2010 another infection somewhere with fever/chills. Then just last week cellulitis.

ACW189
Posts: 24
Joined: Feb 2009

This is interesting. I hope more comment.
ACW

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

The first time I had it I just thought I had a sore on my leg and then got a flu with fever and chills though I finally saw PCP who didn't identify it but put me on an antibiotic. The sore spot on my leg left a section of skin which long term clearly looked different from the areas all around it. The second time I got it, the problem was directly around the irradiated places and followed with fever and chills- again I thought coincidence. It finally went away without seeing a doc....I think (memory not clear). Also cannot tell if left "scar" because of location. Sometime after this second incident, I was reading some part of the CSN discussion boards and someone with a different cancer - no recollection of what - described cellulitis. The next time I got it I happened to have an appointment with a dermatologist who said it was cellulitis and she prescribed an antibiotic. This cleared everything up quickly.

She also asked if I had had any sores inside my nasal passage which I clearly remember each time. She said the causative buggers sometime "hide out" there so prescribed an expensive antibiotic ointment -Altabax - which insurance didn't cover but my mom made me buy with her money!! It cleared up the nasal sore. On my follow-up visit with dermatologist, she warned it has a habit of returning and when I said I now knew the drill, did I have to see a doc each time and what if it happened on a weekend (which it had twice, of course). So I now carry a scrip in case I need the antibiotic. Fortunately, since the Altabax, I haven't had a full recurrence.

That said, what brought it to mind this week was a recurrence of a nasal sore and I am using Altabax so I hope no cellulitis!

Anyone else with a cellulitis story?

Beekay1280
Posts: 10
Joined: Dec 2009

I am wondering if anyone else has gotten back to back infections. Had my nine months doctors appt March 30 and he said if I get another infection to call back and get appt with my oncologist. My cbc tests are puzzling. I have cellulitis again, but my count is low not high. So I have another two days of antiboitics left. I was wondering if anyone else has gone through this. I am a bit nervous having these infections. Thanks Brenda

NewLife2008's picture
NewLife2008
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2009

I am so glad to find this post! I had Stage 3 Anal Cancer in April '08 and I have now had 5 episodes of cellulitis!! I'm not sure when the first one occured because it was so much like the flu that I missed the breakout. They have gotten progressively worse each time...fever of 102, headache, body aches, red rash that spreads all over the area between my inner thighs, vaginal area, checks of my buttocks. The area with the rash has now developed hard knots under the skin in certain spots that the doctor said will not go away...scar tissue he calls it from the cellulitis. It has made it difficult to sit for long periods of time wearing jeans or any other stiff material. This last episode (5th) the doc almost put me in the hospital b/c the rash didnt respond to the antibiotics fast enough and my fever kept rising. She switched me to a stronger dose and said if it didnt work in a couple of hours, I was going in the hospital for IV antibiotics. Luckily it worked, but I was on antibiotics for 3 weeks!! She said the only way to stop it is to put me on antibiotics daily...forever. I'm concerned about doing this and developing a resistance to them and then what will I do? I looked up cellulitis on the internet and it is related to the MRSA or flesh eating virus, so it is nothing to take lightly. My skin looks awful...the rash never goes away, so wearing a bathing suit in the summer is out of the question. It is truly awful!! I never thought that this kind of side effect would have happened.

ACW189
Posts: 24
Joined: Feb 2009

Hello fellow cellulitis peeps.
Well, I just had my third bout with flu-like symptoms last week. Same as before: sudden onset, fever, body aches, chills and small rash. However, this time I had an extra treat of a yeast infection. The symptoms cleared in a couple of days...same as before. Luckily I had appointments with my surgeon and my radiation oncologist who are both perplexed. I did not have lymph nodes removed so I'm not necessarily at high risk for cellulitis but something keeps recurring. I have been told to watch and wait. If it happens again my radiation oncologist is inclined to refer me to their infectious disease docs to see what might be lingering around. It's a a conundrum (spelling?), that's for sure.
ACW

SueRelays
Posts: 489
Joined: Dec 2009

YIKES!!!

I did not experience this, but good to know something in advance for a change!!

teacherofkids
Posts: 14
Joined: Feb 2010

I had stage 3 as well and I am finished with my tratments 4 weeks now. I am now experiencing headaches, chill but now fever or rash as of yet. I didn't know if it was stress of not having any results as of yet. I go to sloan kettering on april 5th for my firt rectal digital exam. Where you ever tested for HIV? I was mortified when he asked me this and didn't have that test. I ahve been with my husband for 21 years and we are both very faithful. It is in the back of my mind with every ache and pain. Can you help ease my mind?

JDuke's picture
JDuke
Posts: 443
Joined: Nov 2009

Your anxiety is common, but it will certainly make the post treatment phase worse. Your body has already been through a very tough battle and needs time and your cooperation to recovery. It is a slow process. The external healing seems to progress rapidly, but the internal takes longer. At least this was my experience. The radiation continues to work for approx. 6 weeks post treatment is what I was told. I did experience aches and pains and I would not be being truthful if I didn't admit this and alarms went off everytime. I would try to tell myself that the stress I was adding to my system was harmful and work at just letting it go. That can be difficult but as we posted on the other thread, distractions really help with that. Walking really helped me, seemed the more I walked the less I ached and the less I ached the less I stressed.
You were asked to take a test for HIV? I know HPV is a known contributing factor, but my oncholgist did not seemed concerned about that, and I was not tested for it. Perhaps others will have comments to add to this question for you.
Take care,
Joanne

z's picture
z
Posts: 1273
Joined: May 2009

I requested an HIV test to rule out the possibility, as this is a rare cancer. I know HIV patients tend to get the rarer cancers due to the immune system bein compromised. I do not have HIV, but the tumor was tested for HPV which I tested positive for.

Lori

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

Everyone experiences this post-treatment anxiety. What all the ladies have said, I echo. Treat yourself well, spend as much time doing enjoyable things with the girls and your loved ones as you can without overtiring your healing body.... Keep as busy as you can while getting the rest you need.

One thing that I feel lucky about that I have not seen mentioned here are the events that the ACS (Cancer Society) holds for Cancer Survivors. Check in your area to see if there is one soon near you. I was especially lucky that ours was between my treatments and those first tests in the spring of 2008. Our conference is called "Living With Cancer" and is held annually so if there is one in your area, it may not be as well timed. There are many suggestions and lots of opportunity to talk with others about our worries: aches and pains and etc. My frustration has been that our cancer is rare enough that it is never specifically addressed. This year (May) we are finally getting a session on post radiation issues.

I also went to a monthly group our cancer center holds with a social worker. It helped me keep perspective and can hook you up with nutritional, beauty, exercise tips, etc.

By the way, the dermatologist I saw is the only one who indicated that cellulitis is a sometimes thing following cancer treatments.

Hang in, enjoy your family, take spiritual time for yourself and this time will pass! Many good thoughts and prayers are winging your way.

Priscilla

lemonade
Posts: 62
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi Priscilla -

I am especially interested in the post radiation issues. Where is this session going to be held? Any more details that you can provide?

Thanks - Barbara

pjjenkins's picture
pjjenkins
Posts: 173
Joined: Mar 2009

This particular conference is in Augusta, Maine, and will be on May 5 this year. It is sponsored by the local ACS chapter. There are at least two similar conferences around our state and I don't know anything about other states. Here it is free for cancer survivors and caretakers. It is a wonderful opportunity... very affirming and hopeful and informational and comforting.
P

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