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Has anyone had arm pain/swelling during radiation?

Posts: 9
Joined: Dec 2005

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer (stage 2 estrogen negative) in August 2005. She had lumpectomy Right breast with one lymph node removed (negative) followed by chemo and radiation. Nine weeks ago she finished her A/C and Taxotere. She has been doing radiation and only has 8 treatments left. SHe has developed extreme right arm pain and swelling in both of her hands. It is on the side that is being radiated. She has said that the pain is worse than Neulasta/Neupogen pain. They did X ray and called her today saying that they want to get an MRI. Of course we are trying to stay positive, but this is so hard. We have realized that when she was first diagnosed we got to know all there was to know about breast cancer, chemo, and everything. We have kind of gone into radiation blind. Has anyone had this happen to them? Any info will help.
Thank you,

Posts: 371
Joined: Mar 2006

Towards the end of radiation I had very bad pain in my arm. It felt like electric shocks going down the arm. Dr said they were normal and would pass. And they did after a few days. I found moving the arm really helped. I went back to my mastectomy exercises for those last 2 weeks of radiation.



KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I'm just done with the chemo, so I can't help. But thank you SO MUCH for the post....I'll be off to radiation in a month or so, and will watch for this.
I'm sending positive energy your sister's way.

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

I think initially my pain started in back of shoulder and down through arm. Often there was sharp pain across mastectomy chest and right into armpit where lymphnodes had been removed with one the size of golf ball.
I was dx'd with stage 3 IDC breast cancer with 11 out of 21 positive nodes and her2 negative as well. Mine turned out to be the result of treatments, side effects from all they did and it took years to unlayer the pain. I still to this day have swelling in my hands that can be painful at times due to nerve pain and I guess the pressure on the nerves. I had lymphnodes checked in both arm pits. Everything is accumulative so may take time to surface as well.
I will keep you close at heart,

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2006

I had swelling in both my hands during and after radiation. My radiation oncologist wasn't too concerned. I still have "stabbing pains" in my breast and am having difficulties with my arm since the lymph disection. It sounds like I had nearly the same treatment as your sister, except I had Taxol instead of Taxotere. My Radiation Oncologist reports the stabbing like pain is common in about 10% of women after radiation. I finished radiation December 23rd and the swelling has just started to subside in the past 6 weeks or so...tell her to hand in there. Chemo is difficult because it makes the whole body sick. Radiation is equally as draining in a totally different way!

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2011

I have arm pain two weeks into my radiation how normal is this. The Dr. says that the arm pain and radiation have nothing to do with each other. Does anyone have any thoughts on this. Diagnosed w/breast cancer (stage 3)in 2010 did chemo and now radiation removed 5 nodes 4 were positive.

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

I didn't have any arm pain during rads. Sorry you are experiencing this. Hoping your rads oncologist can help you find out what is causing it.


Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

BUT I hope your sister is feeling better now...

JuJuBeez's picture
Posts: 332
Joined: Apr 2010

I had lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy 5/12/10 and rads last week of June. The nerves in my left arm seemed to start acting up right after the surgery. I had two days where I couldn't straighten out my ring finger without sharp pain. I had rads 2x day for 5 days. I had a hard time keeping my arm in the crazy position for as long as I needed to. By the last day, I couldn't lower my arm. Tech had to do it for me. I started PT a couple of weeks later. I had a lot of pain, and my ring finger and pinky would get numb. I had a small amount of lymphedema start too. My shoulder still aches sometimes. Both of my scars are still sore, they feel like I'm bruised. Every do often I get a nerve 'firing'. When I start to get sick or run-down, it seems like my whole left side will ache. My fingers will still go numb sometimes when I'm talking on the phone, or if I put my hand under my pillow when I sleep. PT is a good idea after surgery and radiation to regain range of motion and to keep lymphedema risk down.

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2011

I also had limpectomy/sentinel node biopsy 6/1/2010. Finish my last chemo 12/22. I have completed 13 radiation treatments and 8 days of arm pain. Dr says radiation has nothing to do with the pain. But anything is better than chemo. I'm in a good place.

Posts: 83
Joined: Dec 2010

I had a lumpectomy and sentinal node biopsy on 1/4/11.I had radiation 2x a day for 5 days and finished rads on 1/20.So far, no swelling,only a little bit of pain where the incisions are. I did however experience burning of the breast. Not initially, but about 3 weeks after finishing rads. Was told because my rad was done from the inside out(balloon inserted in breast), I burned from the inside out.
So far, no chemo for me(YAY!!!!)

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