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Why huge numbers Radiation Treatments

iris48's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: May 2002

I keep reading the diagnosis of stage 1 BC with no other involvement and the Docs are heavy of the number of Radiation Treatments. I do not understand this? Can you explain???

Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

I was told that with a lumectomy one always gets radiation to the site because tiny cells could be just beyond the surgery. I went for 36 radiation treatments ... however 36 treatments of 6 seconds each is less than a total of 4 minutes of radiation. In order to prevent burning the treatments are very very short ... just a big old bunch of them. Prior to surgery (2 years ago tody) I had the option of lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy and no radiation. I choose lumpectomy and rads because I am very large breasted and didn't know what to do. You'll love this ... now I want breast reduction ... should have thought about that earlier. That's all I know on the subject. Do you feel radiation is bad or not a good idea? I don't like the idea but it didn't seem to effect me adversely ... yet. Jamie

iris48's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: May 2002

Hi Jamie,
I didn't know they were short sec duration. Most of the people I know had more trouble with radiation side effects than the chemo so I couldn't figure out why so many women keep opting for Radiation. My uncle is fighting lung cancer and the radiation effected his esophogus big time. They actually used Botox to relax the muscles to enable him to swallow and not reflux (Gerd problem). It is truly amazing what we all wind up going through. Thanks for the insight. Iris

Posts: 252
Joined: Apr 2002

Jamie is right - radiation for other cancers is much different. My neighbor had radiation for a head and neck cancer and continues to have problems with his esophagus as well as a lot of neropathy.
Radiation for breast cancer can have side effects. I had burns and I have some swelling and edema, but nothing compared to what I've watched my neighbor go through. I also had a friend with colorectal cancer and her radiation was worse than her chemo. Most bc survivors I've talked to would say the opposite - that radiation is a breeze compared to chemo. Diane

Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

The other thing about radiation for breast cancer ... it typically doesn't have to go through any organs ... just the breast itself. I don't want to say it's a breeze because you can get burns and pain but to me it was so localized unlike the chemo that made my entire body feel awful. Lung cancer radiation is tough ... the esophagus is in the way ... I wish your uncle the best. Jamie

Posts: 317
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi...it has to do with the total number of rads you need to get, which is a guideline that has been set by years of research. You can only receive so many rads per treatment. So, a dosimetrist figures your daily dosage by dividing the total number of rads you are to receive by the amount you can receive each day, and they come up with how many days you need to go to get that total dosage. I had stage 1, and received 33 treatments. It really wasn't that bad. During each treatment (which, after he 1st one take very little time), I just thought of those radiation beams frying any stray cancer cells. For me, it made me feel like I had some power. Best wishes, and God bless....Cyndi

Posts: 31
Joined: Jul 2002

Hello Iris;
A friend was diagnosed with "pre-cancerous" lump and was given a lumpectomy and 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy and tamoxifin. She's doing OK, but tired.
My own BC was stage 4 when they found it, so that did radiation to hip, sternum, and elbow. Will do breast in a few weeks.
I found it very helpful to imagine that the radiation beam was a beam of pure white light sent by God to zap all the cancerous cells and to engergize all my good cells around it to keep out the bad guys and to heal my body of all disease.
Helped me a great deal. My radiation experience was not too bad, really. Chemo was tougher for sure.
Love and best wishes,

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

as well is that when the cancer is removed from the breast or even having mastectomy all cells cannot be removed and the cancer itself may seed itself in those cells as the doctor removes it. The chemo is to kill any of the cancer cells that have made their way through our systems and the raidiation is for the skin and cell penitration, getting at the nucleous of them all. Sometimes the benefits from radiations seem very low but I always looked at this as prolonging my life so I wanted all the benefits possible even if it was just a couple more percentage points. Every little bit helps if we are doing it at all. I do know some who have refused chemo but have done radition. I myself took everything they could give me and that is all I could do. Hope you found what you were looking for.
Be good to yourself,

pamtriggs's picture
Posts: 407
Joined: Sep 2000

The answer is money, money, money. The more treastments the more money they get. Also they sometimes thiunk lots of small treatemtns are easier on the body than large ones. In NZ we go for 5 big zaps & treat the side effects.
Hope this helps. They use less in Canada too.

Love & hugs


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