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How long after chemo did you start radiation?

Marlene_K's picture
Posts: 508
Joined: Jul 2009

Those of you who have had chemo & radiation, how long was it after chemo before you started radiation? I don't have a radiology oncologist yet. I asked my oncologist before my last chemo treatment if I should be making my appt with the radiologist yet and he said 'no, we have time for that'. I'm just concerned because from posts I've read, it seems most of you started rads right away. It will be 3 weeks on Thursday since I finished chemo and I don't even have a clue as to what my regimen will be or who will even do it!

Nervous, Mar

cindycflynn's picture
Posts: 1133
Joined: Oct 2009

I just finished chemo on Wednesday and am scheduled to meet with my rads oncologist on March 10th.

It wouldn't hurt to ask your oncologist again about this, and if he still doesn't think it's time yet, find out WHY.

Don't be afraid to question what he's telling you, or to get a second opinion if you want one. I have no idea of what his reasons are, and he may have a good reason to want to wait, but he should at least be able to explain why to you.

Please keep us posted.


mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

I am curious too. I know I need radiation but am starting chemo next week. I haven't made an appointment with my radiation oncologist yet although I do have one and saw him after my diagnosis. Also wondering when I might need to do this although chemo won't be over until August sometime.

Posts: 3659
Joined: Aug 2009

One week to the day after the last of 12 weekly Taxol, I started rads. I had seen Dr. P (radiologist) back back in August before I saw Dr. T (chemo) because of goof up in the appointments so I saw Dr. T the next day.(It was VA's fault, not the CCI.)

I saw Dr. P on the day of the last Taxol and he wanted a CT to be sure what he was starting with as since the last scans in August, I had been through A/C, surgery and Taxol. I just started my 3rd week of it yesterday (Friday). I started Femara 2 weeks and 1 dsay after the last Taxol thus 1 week and 1 day after starting rads.

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3691
Joined: Apr 2009

As with all else regarding treatments plans, things can differ widely for each of us.

My own chemos were exactly 3 weeks apart. My very first rads treatment was 3 weeks after my final chemo. Actually, started rads on a Monday - chemos were on Wednesdays. So, it was a few days more than 3 weeks.

However, before beginning rads treatment - there are necessary preparation appointments in addition to meeting with your rad onc doctor. Referred to in layman's terms as "measurements"... "trial runs"... etc. Please know that there's a little more "flexibility" (for lack of a better word) with rads for most of us. For example, a med onc doctor might feel the patient needs a bit more recovery from chemo before beginning rads.

Remember that chemo is the post-surgery "big guns" of treatment. It is systemic - flows everywhere within the body to destroy bad cells that might be "on the run"... Rads is sometimes referred to as an "insurance" policy - gets any leftover cells that maybe/might be hiding deep within tissue.

My suggestion: try not to worry - it's the weekend, not much you can do about it, anyway. However, call your med onc on Monday to revisit the subject: get the name of rad onc doctor referral and discuss appropriate timing. Get the ball rolling, so to speak. Then, I think, you'll feel better about it.

Kind regards, Susan

chenheart's picture
Posts: 5180
Joined: Apr 2003

No worries~ I started rads about 5 weeks after chemo!

Personally, though anxious to have it all behind me, I was glad for the break. It gave my tired body time to breathe before the next beast-killing assault started!


Marlene_K's picture
Posts: 508
Joined: Jul 2009

Yes, in a way I'm not complaining, as chemo whooped my butt and it's giving me time to regain my strength. I still get mad at myself because I plan on a Saturday to clean my house, and then wind up on the couch all day, eating, watching movies & napping! I'm scared that the exhaustion I have from chemo mixed too closely with the exhaustion from rads could make me a permanent couch potato! I have an appt with my onc on Tuesday and I'm hoping I get some reassurance.

Thanks again ladies!

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

That I was told by Radiation Oncologist. I was still very weak 3 weeks after Chemo (6 cycles Taxotere/Cytoxan) and radiologist encouraged me to take one extra week between. So I started 5 weeks after my last Chemo. In order to start 5 weeks after you probably need to see radiation oncologist next week. Ask for your oncologist for references on Tuesday.Good luck.
New Flower

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Want to wish you good luck with rads Marlene!

Hugs, Leeza

ppurdin's picture
Posts: 1151
Joined: Jul 2009

Hi,I started about 10 days after Chemo.But everyone is different,good luck.

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

I will not start rads for 6 weeks after chemo because of surgery. so not to worry.

Posts: 82
Joined: Nov 2009

I had an initial meeting with radiation onc just as I started chemo -- doctors initially thought I wouldn't need chemo so the appt was made and onc said keep it. I'm glad it worked that way. It was nice to meet everybody and see it, so I had some familiarity with them when I started.

Rads onc said to call when I finished chemo. They had me come in 2 weeks after I finished chemo and didd the measuremeents etc. I had the simulation 10 days later and started then.

Enjoy your break! Finding that sweet spot between pushing yourself so you'll get stronger (not to mention just get stuff done) and allowing yourself to get the rest needed is a real art form, isn't it?


Kat11's picture
Posts: 1931
Joined: May 2009

I started Rads 4 weeks after Chemo. They wanted to give my body a break. So don't worry it's ok.

Moopy23's picture
Posts: 1753
Joined: Jan 2009

Marlene, I posted the same question last May. I was very worried like you. But it's like others have written. In the end, I started radiation about a month after chemo. My oncs. were not particularly concerned, and I had time to recover some strength and have some normal time before daily rads.

Lynda53's picture
Posts: 210
Joined: Oct 2009

I see my surgeon next week for scheduling etc, then 1 more chemo.
I was told 3 weeks after chemo have surgery and immediate (ASAP) radiation.
I am sure tests will be redone esp to check my heart, so it should seem like a short 3 weeks

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

I started radiation three weeks after my last chemo.....but I had met with the radiation oncologist two months prior......As someone said, there are things that have to be done before you can actually start rads treatment.......markings or tattoos......measurements, a trail run......I also had a mold made which took about an hour...this was made so that I was put in the EXACT same postion during each treatment....made it much easier...all this was done the same day, I was there about two hours....once that was finished the radiation oncologist came into the room to make sure all the measurements and markings were correct......nothing hurt, a little "bee sting" for the 4 tattoos.......just time consuming...then I started rads the very next day....During the first few I was very apprehensive, a big machine circling my body.....I never ONCE looked, as soon as the techs left the room and the door closed, I closed my eyes......never saw it one time.....for me that made it so much easier.....eventually, I could tell just be the sounds when I only had one zap left.....as for the tiredness, you maybe over a bit of it from the chemo once you start rads.......I never felt the tiredness effect from the radiation for 4 weeks, about the same time I started turning pink........I am 3 months out of all treatment now.......but there are days when I still get tired, and I just listen to my body and rest.....My radiation oncologist told me that usually it takes about 7 weeks once treatment stops to overcome the worst of the fatigue.....but he also said for some, especially those who have had chemo before rads, can experience some level of fatigue for one year......Again, I just listen to my body.....
I wish you well starting this last part of "the journey".........just keep your eye on the finish line!

Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010


I had my radiology appt. (weeks prior, which was at my surgeons request)prior to my onlcology appt. of which I just started chemo last week(about 6 months - 6 full treatments with 12 herceptin treatments in between) and will start radiation after that. That was a concern of mine also, about not starting radiation right away but those I have spoke with have said it is usually after chemo. It may depend on the type of treatment though.


Posts: 311
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Marlene, I am just doing chemo# 2 tomoorow and have 2 more to go. My cocktail is T/C 4 cycles, 3 weeks apart. A week after my chemo I had an appt. with the rad doc and he was mad at my chemo doc because she never let him know I was in chemo. The saddest thing about this is they both work in the same cancer center. Anyway, I have left nothing to their devices. I call alot. Maybe they'll get tired of that and communicate so they can shut me up. Anyway, he said he would see me sometime in Apr. I calculate my last chemo to be in early Apr., so I will be at his appt. desk on the day I finish the 3rd one. I really don't think you need to worry I read that they like to give you a bit of a break. I'm so happy you are done with chemo. That's a big step under your belt. Gayle

Posts: 3659
Joined: Aug 2009

Different cancers have different aggressive behavior, speed of spread and possibility/probability of spread/reoccurance, thus probably the differences in how Drs feel the need of speed in treating some faster than others or letting the body have time to heal between the stresses of treatments.

I had Inflammatory BC which is very aggressive with not a great 5 year survival rate. Basically, all my Drs (my PA, chemo Dr., surgeon, and rad. Dr) have all been on the same road - hit it fast and hard. Since Aug 8, 09, I have been pretty much having something done all the time. (Aug 8 DX, Aug 11 - 24 many tests, Aug 25 port in, Aug 26 1st A/C, 2 weeks after last A/C mod rad mastectomy (Oct 21), Nov 12 (3 weeks after surgery) started 12 weekly Taxol, Feb 4 started rads (1 week after last Taxol), Feb 12 started Femara)

We are each unique and though we have all fought/are fighting the 'beast', the 'beast' is different for each of us. Talk to your Drs and express your concerns - they are the ones who can best address your case and concerns. If ytou don't get an answer that you can understand/makes sense to you then keep asking the same question but in slightly different words til you do get an answer you understand.

If "one size fits all" there wouldn't be as many different drugs and protocols used.

natly15's picture
Posts: 1941
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Mar my onc is going to give me a month off after chemo before starting radiation. He wants to give my body some rest. I think you're ok but would definitley start getting info from your onc.

Well I read the other comments after I posted, so I see I have repeated what most everyone has already said.

mimivac's picture
Posts: 2147
Joined: Dec 2008

I started within a few weeks. But I met with my radiation oncologist even before I started chemo to talk about what would come next. I also met with her again before chemo ended to do my simulation. That way things were all ready by the time I finished chemo. Is there a reason why your onc. is choosing to wait? At the least, there should be no harm in seeing the radiation oncologist to discuss treatment.


Marlene_K's picture
Posts: 508
Joined: Jul 2009

Well, I'm on my way! And I'm going to be getting a new onocologist. I just can't handle him anymore. I don't get answers from him. Whenever I ask a question or questions, he answers very abruptly, ended by 'ok'? As if to say don't ask anything else. And sometimes I'm pushy and continue to ask, but talk about uncomfortable! He just handed me a script for Arimidex yesterday and told me NOTHING about it. I said I thought I thought I would be taking Tamoxifen as that's what he originally told me. He said "well if you read about Tamoxifen, this is a lot like it with less side effect, OK"? UGGGHHH! The radiology onocologist that he recommends is about 1/2 hour from my house in the opposite direction of work. I got the name of a highly recommended radilogist that works out of the cancer center that I went to for chemo. I have an appt for Monday, March 1st. The receptionist assured me that I will be very happy with him. She also said if I decide to go with him, they could tattoo me that afternoon! They will also give me a few names of onocologists if I was interested in getting a new one. I also got the results of my markers today and everything was 'normal'.... left on my voicemail, lol.

So I guess I'm on my way!

natly15's picture
Posts: 1941
Joined: Sep 2009

You go girl!! Let us know how March 1 goes for you. I changed surgeons in between surgeries. Happy you are being proactive. I go into my onc with my notebook of questions each time I see him, and he better answer my questions. He smiles because he knows what to expect and he says, ok lets do questions first, then your exam.

You are on your way and have been and will continue to that finish line. I cant wait to celebrate with you.

MyTurnNow's picture
Posts: 2690
Joined: Aug 2009

Mar, that's the way to take the bull by the horns. I don't blame you one bit for looking for someone you are more comfortable with. Good luck on your next visit, I'm sure it will go well. The employees that work in healthcare, i.e. the Receptionist, know the reputations of the doctors. I can't wait to celebrate your end of treatments with you. Take care and let us know how it goes.

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