Radiation and co-occurring conditions


Does anyone have co-occurring conditions along with their cancer?  I have spinal stenosis, myelopathy, and spinal Multiple Sclerosis.  

My question is for those who have a co-occurring condition, does it make the side effects of radiation worse?  The radiation therapist said I could have problems with the scar tissue covering the esophagus and trachea after I had four cervical fusions.  Also, I have serious neuropathy and the scars I do have from the surgeries are very sensitive.  

I was told to expect fatigue, possible 2nd degree burns and blistering, damage to the skin, possible heart and lung problems (especially with the side being treated is the left side), possible pneumonia, reduced immune system.  Does this list sound about right?  

Are there any others I should be aware of?

Has anyone had a reduced immune system during radiation, pneumonia, heart or lung problems?  (Just curious what I may face since I work with kids all day, every day).  

Do doctors ever extend the therapy?  I was told 30 rounds and about 6 weeks with going five days per week.  I guess holidays would extend it, but are there other times where the doctor may extend it past the rounds prescribed or the time given?  

One last question:  I was told the last dose will be a very high dose... has anyone else had this?  Does it seem to cause additional side effects?  

Sorry for all the questions, doctors can give you some information, but unless they have actually been through it, I don't think they have all the answers the same as others who have gone through it.


  • Puffin2014
    Puffin2014 Member Posts: 531 Member

    My radiation was to my left side as well and my RO discussed the risks to my heart and lung. Our center uses a technique where they have the patient take deep breaths during and hold it during radiation to lift the breast away from the heart to limit the amount of radiation the heart receives. The technicians could see on their screen a line that indicated the minimum and maximum breath I'd need to take, and the machine was set so that if my breath wasn't being held within that range it automatically shut off. Each session I'd have to hold my breath about 4 times, for about 10 to 20 seconds each time. There was nothing to do to decrease the risk to my left lung lobe, though the percent chance of having lung problems from it was very low. I had no burns or blisters from my radiation.

    It's my understanding that whatever # of sessions the Dr originally prescribes is what you get, and yes, holidays will change your finish date, although some centers work that differently too. I have a friend whose center had her come in the Saturday before Thanksgiving to make up for one of the 2 days the center was closed on Thanksgiving week.


    My dietician consult calculated that I should have 70 gm of protein/day during radiation to provide what my body would need for healing. (I weigh 127#).

  • button2
    button2 Member Posts: 421
    Hi Vickie

    You are so right about doctors. They answer questions, but sometimes you want the opinion of someone's who has done the treatment! I went thru radiation in Jan 2013 and everything went pretty smoothly. I got a pretty bad burn, but they gave me some creams which worked wonders. They also had me take a few days break at one point to help the redness subside. I had three high power doses at the end, but didn't notice any new symptoms. I wasn't tired, and I think my keeping up with my walking regimen helped with that (I normally run, but I didn't want to sweat with the skin problems). I used a special ph neutral soft soap in the shower. I ended up with scar tissue in my lung, but I can't feel anything, it was discovered on a CT scan later. I keep up with my cardiovascular fitness to have the best lung/heart health I can and also to avoid any viruses esp in winter. Healthy diet, frequent hand washing just like everybody should do. I think you usually do the amount of treatments they say you will need from the beginning. Good luck with your treatment, you'll do great...Best, Anna

  • disneyfan2008
    disneyfan2008 Member Posts: 6,583 Member
    I was very fortunate-I did

    I was very fortunate-I did not burn at all-no fatige or side effects. They would ask me regularly if I had fatigue. I would say what it it? They toldl me IF I had to ask I dd not have it.


    so no side effect-I am thankful to say.


    I HOPE it goes smoothly for you...