Feedback Needed: Study Shows Radiation Treatments Negatively Affect Cognitive Functioning

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mimikitty
mimikitty Member Posts: 30 Member
Hi Everyone,

I'm in the midst of deciding between a mastectomy with reconstruction or lumpectomy followed by radiation. I was told that it's likely I won't need radiation treatments if I get the mastectomy. In researching these options, I came across a medical research study that found radiation negatively affected breast cancer survivors' cognitive functioning in much the same way that chemo does. Below is a link to the study.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212093738.htm

I discussed this article with my oncologist and a radiation oncologist and they don't believe this to be the case. So I wanted to check with folks on this forum who have had radiation therapy, particularly radiation therapy without chemo. Have you felt that your cognitive functioning has been impaired since the radiation treatments?

Thanks in advance for anything you can share.

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  • grams2jc
    grams2jc Member Posts: 756
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    I didnt have that kind of problem
    I did rads right after chemo and even though I burned and had to delay trtmt a couple of times, I gained energy and felt much better at the end than when I started.

    BC is very sneaky, I personally would do the mastectomy AND I would do the rads, using every available option to put this behind me and hope and pray it never comes back, while knowing that it could. Sorry to be a downer, just read a lot of stories both here and in other forums and have personal history that influences my thinking.

    I wish you an easier decision, peace with your decision, and easy treatment whatever you choose,

    Jennifer
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    IMHO....I agree with Jennifer...
    just because you have no breast, doesn't mean you do not have tissue on the 'margins' that could develop...

    What do your doctors say about treatment? Do you trust them?

    I have learned, in all of my years, that there is a tendency in research to stress the findings that support whatever way the researcher wants to see it...in other words, take the same idea, and it can be used to argue on either side. My questions from the article would be...who was in the sample groups? Were the ages, ethnicity, prior survivorship, prior hysterectomy (hormone changes), matched in each group?

    Cancer is a sneaky devil...there may (hopefully!) come a time in the future that people look back and say how 'barbaric' our treatment methods are...but, IMHO, this is the best we have now, and if we don't fight hard, there will be no one in the future...

    "They did not find that hormonal therapy (such as tamoxifen) caused cognitive difficulties."...from the article....I can find another, quite easily, that says the opposite...

    Thank you for the link...all information is good...even if only to make us think...but to try to make our own treatment choices, unless we are as well informed as the treating professionals, can have significant impact on our longevity.

    You did VERY well to discuss it with your doctors...and listen to what they had to say...Bravo!

    Hugs from a very old soul, Kathi
  • TraciInLA
    TraciInLA Member Posts: 1,994 Member
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    KathiM said:

    IMHO....I agree with Jennifer...
    just because you have no breast, doesn't mean you do not have tissue on the 'margins' that could develop...

    What do your doctors say about treatment? Do you trust them?

    I have learned, in all of my years, that there is a tendency in research to stress the findings that support whatever way the researcher wants to see it...in other words, take the same idea, and it can be used to argue on either side. My questions from the article would be...who was in the sample groups? Were the ages, ethnicity, prior survivorship, prior hysterectomy (hormone changes), matched in each group?

    Cancer is a sneaky devil...there may (hopefully!) come a time in the future that people look back and say how 'barbaric' our treatment methods are...but, IMHO, this is the best we have now, and if we don't fight hard, there will be no one in the future...

    "They did not find that hormonal therapy (such as tamoxifen) caused cognitive difficulties."...from the article....I can find another, quite easily, that says the opposite...

    Thank you for the link...all information is good...even if only to make us think...but to try to make our own treatment choices, unless we are as well informed as the treating professionals, can have significant impact on our longevity.

    You did VERY well to discuss it with your doctors...and listen to what they had to say...Bravo!

    Hugs from a very old soul, Kathi

    I don't believe radiation to the breast causes cognitive issues
    I'm not in any way a medical professional -- just a woman who's about 2 1/2 years out from breast cancer treatment (bilateral lumpectomies, chemo, radiation, currently on Tamoxifen).

    That being said, I don't see how radiation to my breasts can affect my brain. That just doesn't make sense to me.

    I absolutely do believe the STRESS of having cancer can and does affect just about everyone's cognitive abilities to some degree. Doesn't matter what treatment you do or don't have. So how can the researchers remove stress from the equation, and just choose to blame the radiation?

    And, given that hormonal therapy such as Tamoxifen by definition affects estrogen, which every menopausal woman knows can affect cognitive abilities, I had to laugh at the researchers' statement that they did not find that hormonal therapy played any part.

    Just my own opinion, from a soul not quite as "old" as Kathi!

    :-) Traci
  • MAJW
    MAJW Member Posts: 2,510 Member
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    TraciInLA said:

    I don't believe radiation to the breast causes cognitive issues
    I'm not in any way a medical professional -- just a woman who's about 2 1/2 years out from breast cancer treatment (bilateral lumpectomies, chemo, radiation, currently on Tamoxifen).

    That being said, I don't see how radiation to my breasts can affect my brain. That just doesn't make sense to me.

    I absolutely do believe the STRESS of having cancer can and does affect just about everyone's cognitive abilities to some degree. Doesn't matter what treatment you do or don't have. So how can the researchers remove stress from the equation, and just choose to blame the radiation?

    And, given that hormonal therapy such as Tamoxifen by definition affects estrogen, which every menopausal woman knows can affect cognitive abilities, I had to laugh at the researchers' statement that they did not find that hormonal therapy played any part.

    Just my own opinion, from a soul not quite as "old" as Kathi!

    :-) Traci

    If...
    If that were true, I shouldn't have one active brain cell!!!!!!! I've had radiation 3 times....yes, 3 times....breast, clavicle nodes, and finished 10 radiation treatments to my brain almost 8 weeks ago....so no, I don't believe rads causes cognitive problems.....especially on the breast...radiation is so precise...on the breast, there's no way for it to "migrate" to your brain...and remember it's another form of treatment for this horrible beast!

    Hugs, Nancy
  • mimikitty
    mimikitty Member Posts: 30 Member
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    MAJW said:

    If...
    If that were true, I shouldn't have one active brain cell!!!!!!! I've had radiation 3 times....yes, 3 times....breast, clavicle nodes, and finished 10 radiation treatments to my brain almost 8 weeks ago....so no, I don't believe rads causes cognitive problems.....especially on the breast...radiation is so precise...on the breast, there's no way for it to "migrate" to your brain...and remember it's another form of treatment for this horrible beast!

    Hugs, Nancy

    Thank you everybody!!
    Thanks a lot for all of your input on this topic! Based on my doctors' responses and yours I'm now convinced this is not something that I need to worry about. Your input greatly helped with my decision!
  • camul
    camul Member Posts: 2,537
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    didnt find radiation to do that
    But of course I had rads to the pelvic region,hios and bumm bones. So maybe it did have an effect on my cognitive abilities(laughing). Seriously, I know that the chemo and tamoxifen did have an effect. The most I felt from radiation was being exhausted and burned. The burn was the worst, as it burned and cracked my crack and there is no movement that does not effect that part of my body. But it helped so much with the pain. I have had it twice and cant have anymore to that part of my body. But it certainly was a God send for me.
    I would listen to he RO. I know mine was really good and has been very upfront answering all my questions.
  • lsue
    lsue Member Posts: 1
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    Radiation Therapy
    I had a mammogram that showed two cancer tumors in right breast.
    Had lumpectomy Wednesday February 29, 2012. Went back to Dr. next Wednesday.
    He put a Balloon Catheter in for radiation therapy called
    MammoSite 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy simplifies radiation…
    http://www.mammosite.com/physicians/radiation-therapy/how-it-works.cfm
    Had the five day treatment the following Monday. No chemo.
    No side effects. I am doing fine.

    All my doctors assured me that in long term studies on recurrence there was no difference in mastectomy and lumpectomy
  • Lightheaded
    Lightheaded Member Posts: 6
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    lsue said:

    Radiation Therapy
    I had a mammogram that showed two cancer tumors in right breast.
    Had lumpectomy Wednesday February 29, 2012. Went back to Dr. next Wednesday.
    He put a Balloon Catheter in for radiation therapy called
    MammoSite 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy simplifies radiation…
    http://www.mammosite.com/physicians/radiation-therapy/how-it-works.cfm
    Had the five day treatment the following Monday. No chemo.
    No side effects. I am doing fine.

    All my doctors assured me that in long term studies on recurrence there was no difference in mastectomy and lumpectomy

    I had a lumpectomy in 2003
    I had a lumpectomy in 2003 and was treated with a round of 3 chemos, then 6 weeks of radiation then 3 more chemos. I now suffer from some form of cognative damage. I feel "drunk" and lightheaded all the time. I believe that we are "test subjects" and the doctors do not know the long term side affect of these drugs. Yes they kill the cancer, but what else are they damageing? Check out "Post-Cheomtherapy cognitive impairment" on line.
  • Ritzy
    Ritzy Member Posts: 4,381 Member
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    TraciInLA said:

    I don't believe radiation to the breast causes cognitive issues
    I'm not in any way a medical professional -- just a woman who's about 2 1/2 years out from breast cancer treatment (bilateral lumpectomies, chemo, radiation, currently on Tamoxifen).

    That being said, I don't see how radiation to my breasts can affect my brain. That just doesn't make sense to me.

    I absolutely do believe the STRESS of having cancer can and does affect just about everyone's cognitive abilities to some degree. Doesn't matter what treatment you do or don't have. So how can the researchers remove stress from the equation, and just choose to blame the radiation?

    And, given that hormonal therapy such as Tamoxifen by definition affects estrogen, which every menopausal woman knows can affect cognitive abilities, I had to laugh at the researchers' statement that they did not find that hormonal therapy played any part.

    Just my own opinion, from a soul not quite as "old" as Kathi!

    :-) Traci

    I had rads after my
    I had rads after my lumpectomy and don't think that rads on my chest could affect my brain. Like Traci wrote, it doesn't make any sense.

    Sue :)