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DCIS & Radiation

zivagirl's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 2010

Just dx w/DCIS. Surgeon is recommending lumpectomy and radiation as well as reconstruction with a plastic surgeon. Seems from what I'm reading this goes hand in hand? I'm scared to death of the radiation!!

KayNYC's picture
Posts: 495
Joined: Mar 2010

Of course we are all different but I thought I'd let you know about my experience. I was worried that the Radiation treatment would interfere with my work and my ability to continue to do the things I enjoy. It did neither. I completed rads two weeks ago. My breast has healed nicely and I only have a little patch of peeling skin left as evidence of the treatment. During rads, I had redness, swelling and tenderness with some swelling of my arm as well. I continued to work full time and did not change my daily activites much. I had my treatments every morning at 7:15 AM before I started my work day. I made sure I used the ointments prescribed by my Rad Onc (Aquaphor and 100% Aloe Vera Gel), went to bed early, ate a healthy diet and drank lots of water. I experienced extreme fatigue two days after I completed my rads. It lasted for one full day. My energy level never declined enough to be a problem. Remaining active and involved in my normal routine, I think, was helpful to me. I recently started the hormone receptor blockers that I will take for the next five years.
Rad treatment is not a day at the beach but it is do-able. You will be seeing your Rad Onc frequently and the Radiation teams are great at providing you with information and support. I loved my team. I return to them after the holiday for my first month check-up. I am bringing them a very tasty surprize to thank them for being so wonderful. Feel free to ask questions here. There are many Radiation Graduates (Rad Grads) that can offer informative hints and support.Wishing you all the best as you start your treatment journey.
Hugs, K

Ritzy's picture
Posts: 4382
Joined: Aug 2009

Hey zivagirl. I am puzzled as to why reconstruction was recommended for you since you will be having a lumpectomy. Reconstruction is usually for women that have a mastectomy.

I had a lumpectomy with rads. I never burned, just got the dark pink. My breast was tender during rads. I think it started around the 3rd or 4th week. I started using Aquaphor and Biafine from day one, as recommended by my own rads oncologist. My rads oncologist saw me at least once or twice a week to check my skin to make sure I was doing ok. Something that helped my husband and I was that before my rad treatments started, my rads oncologist showed us the machine, the computers, my planning and everything so that we understood better what would be going on. My husband even stood outside the room everyday and watched me on the monitor while the techs were explaining to him what was going on. I think we all fear the unknown, but, that is what helped me. Don't let rads scare you, remember they are killing any stray cancer cells that are left from the surgery, and, that is good. Good luck to you!

Sue :)

aisling8's picture
Posts: 1618
Joined: Feb 2010

I can only relate what happened to me which doesn't mean it will be your experience, but I hope it is because the lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy, and radiation were all very doable. It's kinda weird going every day to radiation and it bothered me more emotionally than physically because it meant wow, there's really something happening to me, but I never burned -- just got very tan and freckled and it never hurt. I slept really really well all during radiation. But I maintained regular life -- walked every day for miles and miles, worked, babysat the grandkids. I'm now about a month out and I have a faint outline of where the radiation was on my skin. No problems.

I hope it's as easy for you.


DianeBC's picture
Posts: 3886
Joined: Jun 2009

I didn't burn during rads either. I got tender and a very dark pink, but, nothing else. I just knew that it was helping me to fight bc, so, I accepted it as part of my treatment. After awhile the going everyday wasn't bad. I would have lunch with my hubby or my girlfriends and shop and stuff. So, I made it into fun days too. I did sleep more as they do exhaust you. Good luck!

Hugs, Diane

zivagirl's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 2010

Dr suggested reconstructive surgery due to implants and the affect radiation may have on the breast - at this point implants are the least of my concern - I say remove them! This is all very new and feel like I'm in the twilight zone. Thanks so much for your response. I've become so much aware of kindness during this process!

hopeful in tally
Posts: 56
Joined: Apr 2010

Zivagirl ... as you can see ... you are not alone. Speaking for myself, I was diagnosed with DCIS on March 23rd. It was a day I will never forget. As I look back on the journey ... March 23rd was and still is the worst day. As someone else said...it's all doable. Surround yourself with positive energy and BELIEVE this will all work out. I just finished my 7 weeks of radiation last Friday. It became a routine. It did not hurt and as a matter of fact, I met some incredible people...both patients and staff. I had my treatment at 3:30 daily so that I could go straight home and relax. I never missed a day of work and although I got a crispy breast...it was well worth it because you know the treatment is working. One of my radiologists suggested it was like Pac-man. Close your eyes and think of the radiation just eating up those bad cancer cells!! Sounds like your DCIS was detected early ... as was mine ... and I believe we will both enjoy a long and healthy life ... now start believing that yourself!!!!

Posts: 33
Joined: Jan 2009

Not everyone who has DCIS benefits from radiation. I chose not to have radiation after my lumpectomy in 2007 because my score on the Van Nuys Prognositc Index was 5. This meant that my chance of recurrence was only 4 percent. The VNPI calculates your recurrence risk based on your age, the size and grade of your DCIS and your margins after surgery.

Since radiation decrease your chances of recurrence by roughly 50 percent, it makes sense to have it if you risk is high. However in my case, because my recurrence risk was so low, I did not think if made sense for me.

This however is a very personal choice that not everyone would be comfortable with. I needed to consult with Dr. Michael Lagios, a world-renowned DCIS expert and pathologist that anyone can consult with, before I was comfortable with omitting radiation.

Another factor to consider is that you can only have radiation once. To me it made sense to save this treatment in case I ever had a recurrence that was invasive.

Because DCIS is non-invasive cancer, you don't need to rush into anything. If you are uncomfortable with radiation, you may want to get a 2nd opinion before making any decision.

Please feel free to send me a private message if you have any questions that I can help you with.

Best wishes,

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Wishing you good luck with rads, should your doctors recommend it for you.

So many of us have gone through it and can offer some help.

Hugs, Leeza

Posts: 186
Joined: May 2010

Everyone reacts to things differently. Unfortunately, I did not have a good experience. Radiation, itself, was a breeze. If there was a side effect to get, I got it. I finished radiation on 5/28 and am still exhausted. I tried to work but had to take time off towards the end of radiation. I had burning, itching, and throbbing during radiation. As of right now, I am on bed-rest because 2 weeks ago, the part that was radiated was painful to the touch and I was beyond tired. If I had to do it over, I would have chosen a mastectomy. I would be physically healed by now and dealing with the emotional side of losing a breast, but I would not be dealing with both at the same time. I pray that your experience is totally different than mine.

crselby's picture
Posts: 438
Joined: Oct 2009

Has anyone mentioned the possibility to you of brachytherapy irradiation? It's an internal kind of radiation that has been around for a while and spares your skin from crisping.

I had DCIS dxed June 2009, lumpectomy (but no implant issue to deal with as you have) in July 2009, then interstitial multicatheter brachytherapy from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, 2009. That's right, only 5 days. You go twice a day, 6 hours apart, for 5 days, and you're done!

Please ask if this is possible for you. It isn't for everyone. You can see a picture on my Expressions page.


Snowkitty's picture
Posts: 295
Joined: Jun 2010

OMG Connie. What a great pix of a mammo machine. Still laughing.


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

Radiation was a piece of cake for me. Nothing like chemo--just a little sunburn. Everone is different though. Hoping you have a similar experience!

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