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Why does Chemo cause Hernias?

Miss Cindy L's picture
Miss Cindy L
Posts: 27
Joined: Dec 2011

Hi my friends I have noticed that some of you are posting about hernias that have appeared during Chemotherapy. Could some of you please share your knowlege or experience with this? I have never has Chemotherapy but it may be in my future so I would like to know what to expect. Thank you all for sharing so much of your life experiences on this board. It really helps all of us to get thru our journeys.

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1521
Joined: Mar 2010

After surgery, the repaired abdominal muscles are weaker, and more susceptible to separating, allowing what is behind them to come through.  Hernias are very common after these surgeries.  Since my surgery in 2007, I had a moderate sized hernia repaired (2010) and currently have a very small hernia developing.  No surgery at this point.  We'll track it and see if I ever need to have it repaired. 

Chemo can slow healing, and thus may allow weakening to occur, but in reality, it is not the chemo, it is the surgery that is the culprit.  Hernias can take time to develop.  Mine was first found on a CT scan over a year after my surgery.  We tracked it for another 1 1/2 years before I decided that the time was ripe to have it repaired.  I could have waited longer, but I was at the point of wearing support garments for exercise, and constantly feeling the hernia.  I grew tired of going to my 6 month appointments wondering if "this time was it" so in conjunction with my surgeon, I scheduled the surgery at my convenience.

Miss Cindy L's picture
Miss Cindy L
Posts: 27
Joined: Dec 2011

Thank you for your prompt reply. That makes alot of sense...so Chemo can slow down the healing process? When Chemo is done so quickly after surgery it can be risky? I understand not wanting to wait to repair the hernia I also had one and umbilical hernia yrs. ago and it was so annoying that I opted to have it repaired before the Dr. recommended date and I am so happy I did. How soon was your Chemo started after your initial surgery?

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1521
Joined: Mar 2010

My situation was different in that I had Intraperitoneal chemo, starting the day after my surgery.  Intraperitoneal chemo is infused directly into the abdominal cavity, so everything was very raw.  My systemic chemo started 6 months after surgery.  Avastin will definitely impact healing - they like 6-8 weeks on either side of surgery before that drug.  Folfox shouldn't affect the healing as much, but as it affects every cell in your body, it can.

Many people do not develop hernias.  Many do.  It is not considered an uncommon side effect of abdominal surgery.  You can sit worried about the hernia.  The surgery is necessary, and you may or may not develop a hernia.

I'll be cheering you on!

Alice

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3333
Joined: Apr 2010

The main cause of hernias for us with cancer is the surgeries, also hernias appear for no reason, such as my husband, never had a surgery in his life, never lifts heavy things, no cancer, yet he had to have two hernias repaired at the same time a few years ago, his first surgery ever.

As for chemo it was appx. 4 weeks before to stop and 4 weeks after surgery before beginning chemo again to allow your body time to have healed.  Some are 5 weeks, depends on how well you heal before starting back up on chemo if you have to.

Winter Marie

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 4122
Joined: Feb 2009

Yes, the above answers are correct.  My double hernia plus abdominal surgery was performed in November and I'm so glad because it was hurting me every time I'd eat just the slightest thing and it would keep getting bigger and bigger (about the size of a softball) until after going poop.  My hand was always pushing on it because of the pain.  Actually my stay in the hospital for that was longer than my initial surgery, but I'm glad it's done.  After my intial surgery they waited six weeks to start chemo so 4-6 weeks after surgery is pretty standard.

Kim

Miss Cindy L's picture
Miss Cindy L
Posts: 27
Joined: Dec 2011

Thank you all for the input and clarification....I was worried and now I feel better. So many concerns and questions I have about the Chemo Process. How sick did you all get? Is it stay in bed sick or able to function but feel awful?

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3333
Joined: Apr 2010

pretty good.  Started college about three weeks after resection, went through college full time while doing chemo, babysat grandchildren, took trips, went camping.  You feel bad sometimes, but not all the time, and I functioned very well on it.  At one time when I was off Avastin and Xeloda to get a stent put in my heart I told my Onc I had felt better on the chemo then off, strange as that may seem.

everyone reacts differently to chemo, I thought it would be a heck of a lot worse and surprised it wasn't, you won't know until you're on it.

Winter Marie

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