Radiation with partially filled expanders?

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LynnKT
LynnKT Member Posts: 47
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hi, I just finished my last chemo yesterday. Yippee! I had a bilateral mastectomy -- my right breast had the cancer in 2 places, Stage I. I had reconstructive surgery done in both breasts at the time of surgery. Very painful, but I got through it okay. Now I am faced with a decision. My onc. has referred me to see a radiation onc. on March 29th to discuss the possibility of rad. for my right breast. My need for radiation is in the marginal area, and both docs, so far, are unsure whether I should do it. The area in question was a precancerous DCIS, 2mm, that was touching my chest wall. No lymph node involvement. The surgery supposedly got it all, but there is always that slight chance . . . Anyone out there who has had radiation with filled expanders? I've read some horror stories as well as some success stories. I want to do all that I can to nip any recurrence in the bud, but again I don't want to do any damage that is unnecessary. Thanks so much!

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  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    i did
    i did 7 weeks of radiation with expanders in... I had no major issues.. i just made sure i took really good care of my skin.. i started with a coco butter moisturerizer weeks before rad started to area, and once rad started.. i used what the doctor prescribed and a very mild soap (if any)..... I had my final implants placed 2 months after rad was complete.. and had larger implants place than the size of expanders...

    Wish you luck with what ever route you choose... I too, wanted to do everything humanly possible to prevent recurrence
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    e_hope said:

    i did
    i did 7 weeks of radiation with expanders in... I had no major issues.. i just made sure i took really good care of my skin.. i started with a coco butter moisturerizer weeks before rad started to area, and once rad started.. i used what the doctor prescribed and a very mild soap (if any)..... I had my final implants placed 2 months after rad was complete.. and had larger implants place than the size of expanders...

    Wish you luck with what ever route you choose... I too, wanted to do everything humanly possible to prevent recurrence

    radiation with expanders
    Thanks for your response. I have heard stories where the expanders need to come out and also infection ensues. Also, when I discussed the radiation with my plas. surg., he said that he usually would not perform the implant surgery for 12 months after radiation. I am wondering why you were able to have it done so quickly. Did your radiated breast shrink in size in comparison with the other? Thanks for your help. Lynn
  • canoegirl
    canoegirl Member Posts: 169
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    Haven't done the rads yet
    Hi, I meet with the Rad. Onc. in two weeks to discuss radiation. I had 2 positive nodes, but one spread beyond the node, thus the potential for rads. My PS is planning on replacing the expander with an implant before rads in needed and then I'll do a flap reconstruction about 6-12 months after rads are finished. If I don't need rads, I'll need to decide whether to do the implant of the flap. Had planned ont he flap, but the implant sounds so much easier since I've already done the tissue expander. Guess I'll know my options in 2 weeks!

    Good luck,
    Marcy
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
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    canoegirl said:

    Haven't done the rads yet
    Hi, I meet with the Rad. Onc. in two weeks to discuss radiation. I had 2 positive nodes, but one spread beyond the node, thus the potential for rads. My PS is planning on replacing the expander with an implant before rads in needed and then I'll do a flap reconstruction about 6-12 months after rads are finished. If I don't need rads, I'll need to decide whether to do the implant of the flap. Had planned ont he flap, but the implant sounds so much easier since I've already done the tissue expander. Guess I'll know my options in 2 weeks!

    Good luck,
    Marcy

    I did all of my rads with my
    I did all of my rads with my expander filled 700 cc's. No problems.Just had the expander out and the implant put in last week. My Rad. Onc. is the one who said he wanted the expander totally filled before we started rads. But it depends on where the radiation has to hit. If the expander is in the way, then they would just deflate it until you finished rads.
    Hugs
    Dee
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    dyaneb123 said:

    I did all of my rads with my
    I did all of my rads with my expander filled 700 cc's. No problems.Just had the expander out and the implant put in last week. My Rad. Onc. is the one who said he wanted the expander totally filled before we started rads. But it depends on where the radiation has to hit. If the expander is in the way, then they would just deflate it until you finished rads.
    Hugs
    Dee

    If they deflate the expander
    If they deflate the expander before rad -- which I'm not sure would have to happen in my case, won't that make it more difficult to complete the reconstruction after rad? Doesn't radiation toughen and harden the skin? That is what I have heard. My ps indicated that he would just stall the inflation process until radiation is complete and then wait another year for total healing with the expanders in place. Doesn't a year seem extreme?
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    LynnKT said:

    If they deflate the expander
    If they deflate the expander before rad -- which I'm not sure would have to happen in my case, won't that make it more difficult to complete the reconstruction after rad? Doesn't radiation toughen and harden the skin? That is what I have heard. My ps indicated that he would just stall the inflation process until radiation is complete and then wait another year for total healing with the expanders in place. Doesn't a year seem extreme?

    I had my expander over
    I had my expander over expanded before rad.. to allow for the shrinking.. I was a C cup before radiation... and after... the silicone implants were placed I am a D cup.. ((I had 450 saline expanders.. and now have 550 silicone implants..))

    When you go through radiation... you need to keep the skin moisturized.. I would use aquaphor everynight and lube my breast up before bed.. along with the prescribed cream my rad oncologist ordered 3 or 4 times a day...

    I don't know about a year.. I can only speak of my experiences.. I had my double mastectomy Feb 27, 2009... I finished radiation Nov 2, 2009... and had my final exchange surgery Dec 17, 2009... I had no issues with healing and I didn't really burn from the rad.. I only got a little brown.. and did get pink on my back.. All my doctors where surprized with how well my skin held up... I also preped my breast for months prior to starting rad with using Palmers Cocco butter 2 times a day , the one with Vit E.. so I don't know if that helped..
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    e_hope said:

    I had my expander over
    I had my expander over expanded before rad.. to allow for the shrinking.. I was a C cup before radiation... and after... the silicone implants were placed I am a D cup.. ((I had 450 saline expanders.. and now have 550 silicone implants..))

    When you go through radiation... you need to keep the skin moisturized.. I would use aquaphor everynight and lube my breast up before bed.. along with the prescribed cream my rad oncologist ordered 3 or 4 times a day...

    I don't know about a year.. I can only speak of my experiences.. I had my double mastectomy Feb 27, 2009... I finished radiation Nov 2, 2009... and had my final exchange surgery Dec 17, 2009... I had no issues with healing and I didn't really burn from the rad.. I only got a little brown.. and did get pink on my back.. All my doctors where surprized with how well my skin held up... I also preped my breast for months prior to starting rad with using Palmers Cocco butter 2 times a day , the one with Vit E.. so I don't know if that helped..

    Thanks for your insights. I
    Thanks for your insights. I really appreciate it a lot. It gives me hope that it will be okay. My breast size is much smaller that yours. Before my mast., I was a barely-A, and now with the expanders I am an almost-B. Maybe my ps is concerned with the fact that there is not too much to work with. How much time did you have between chemo and radiation to prepare your skin?
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    LynnKT said:

    Thanks for your insights. I
    Thanks for your insights. I really appreciate it a lot. It gives me hope that it will be okay. My breast size is much smaller that yours. Before my mast., I was a barely-A, and now with the expanders I am an almost-B. Maybe my ps is concerned with the fact that there is not too much to work with. How much time did you have between chemo and radiation to prepare your skin?

    i finished
    I finished chemo Aug 25... and i began using the cream sometime in July.. I too was only a large A/ small B before my mastectomy... LOL, figured I was getting something out of this hell..

    I started rad at the end of Sept...
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    e_hope said:

    i finished
    I finished chemo Aug 25... and i began using the cream sometime in July.. I too was only a large A/ small B before my mastectomy... LOL, figured I was getting something out of this hell..

    I started rad at the end of Sept...

    Since it's getting towards
    Since it's getting towards warmer weather, I have heard that one shouldn't swim while undergoing radiation because of the chlorinated water. Any take on that? Does the rad. onc. provide you with a list of creams and ointments to apply? One more question that I have been wondering about, too. Doesn't the beam from the radiation make the expander itself hot? Thanks.
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
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    LynnKT said:

    Since it's getting towards
    Since it's getting towards warmer weather, I have heard that one shouldn't swim while undergoing radiation because of the chlorinated water. Any take on that? Does the rad. onc. provide you with a list of creams and ointments to apply? One more question that I have been wondering about, too. Doesn't the beam from the radiation make the expander itself hot? Thanks.

    The only problem I
    The only problem I experienced with the expander was muscle contractions about 2 weeks after the last treatment, when the muscles started tightening up...ouch! But that too passed and my skin was fine...not thickened or different feeling then before rads.The expander did start to feel like it was getting harder right before I had it out and the implant put in...but that could have been my imagination...I had my expander in about a year from the first surgery when it was put in April 2009, through the chemo and the rads....to just having it out March 16th....I think having to wait a year after rads sounds extreme...I mean I just finished rads in December...had the surgery in March..
    Dee
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    dyaneb123 said:

    The only problem I
    The only problem I experienced with the expander was muscle contractions about 2 weeks after the last treatment, when the muscles started tightening up...ouch! But that too passed and my skin was fine...not thickened or different feeling then before rads.The expander did start to feel like it was getting harder right before I had it out and the implant put in...but that could have been my imagination...I had my expander in about a year from the first surgery when it was put in April 2009, through the chemo and the rads....to just having it out March 16th....I think having to wait a year after rads sounds extreme...I mean I just finished rads in December...had the surgery in March..
    Dee

    Waiting a whole year after
    Waiting a whole year after rad seems extreme to me, too. I will discuss this with the rad onc. when I meet with her on Monday. I will also talk to the ps about it in a few weeks when I see him next. I am not out for perfection. I mostly want survival, and if I can get a bit of symmetry to boot, I will be more than happy. I am still recovering from my last chemo, so my brain is a bit fuzzy. My son's 7th b-day is this Friday, so I am hoping to be clear-headed to enjoy that celebration.
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    LynnKT said:

    Waiting a whole year after
    Waiting a whole year after rad seems extreme to me, too. I will discuss this with the rad onc. when I meet with her on Monday. I will also talk to the ps about it in a few weeks when I see him next. I am not out for perfection. I mostly want survival, and if I can get a bit of symmetry to boot, I will be more than happy. I am still recovering from my last chemo, so my brain is a bit fuzzy. My son's 7th b-day is this Friday, so I am hoping to be clear-headed to enjoy that celebration.

    yes it does..
    a whole year.. seems like a very long time.. but my situation seems so different... I had my expanders in for 10 months..

    My son's 5 th birthday is Friday also... Enjoy your day with your son!
  • LynnKT
    LynnKT Member Posts: 47
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    e_hope said:

    yes it does..
    a whole year.. seems like a very long time.. but my situation seems so different... I had my expanders in for 10 months..

    My son's 5 th birthday is Friday also... Enjoy your day with your son!

    Thanks. I expect to enjoy
    Thanks. I expect to enjoy every moment. I am just starting to feel better after my last chemo a week ago. I will let you know what my rad onc. says at our appointment next Monday. Have a wonderful day with your son!