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need help side effects of radiation and chemo

462lt's picture
Posts: 118
Joined: Jun 2010

HI Everyone, I have rectal cancer but it is only 1cm from anal verge so my side effects would be more like yours with anal cancer. I have had a wicked bout with diarreha and now have a hemoroid the size of mount everett and I am finding it hard to pee.I can't get confortable and haven't slept for 3 day. My anus is throbbbbbbing. I have tried tuck pads, witch hazel in water, tuck ointment and no relief. Any suggestion would be welcome.

mp327's picture
Posts: 4148
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry you are having all of these side effects. You didn't mention how far along in your treatment you are, but unfortunately, the side effects are accumulative and worsen as you go along. As for the diarrhea, I used Imodium, but some people need a prescription med for this like Lomotil. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water, as the diarrhea will dehydrate you. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help dilute your urine and make it burn less. As for pain in the anal area, it can be unbearable--I feel your pain. The one thing that really helped me was soaking in the tub in warm water, which I did several times a day when necessary. My radiation oncologist also prescribed Silver Sulfadiazine cream for my burned skin, which helped. Just make sure that you have no traces of any creams or ointments removed from your skin prior to radiation treatments, as they can increase the burning. If you are having pain with bowel movements, you might want to ask your doctor for some Lidocaine cream, which you can apply prior to a BM. This can help numb the area and lessen the pain. I wish I had sure-fire remedies for your side effects, but it's really a "try it and see if it works" approach that we all have to take. I wish you the very best and hope you can get some relief.

z's picture
Posts: 1411
Joined: May 2009

Hi Laura,

I'm glad you came to the anal board and asked for help, as you said your tx is a lot like ours. The radiation is directed to the same area. My radiologist gave me a product called bag balm. This is used on cow utters. I would put it on as soon as I got home from being zapped. I would take a bath then go get zapped, then come home and apply the bag balm and take a pain pill. Are you taking any pain meds? I would also have a sports bottle filled with water in the bathroom, and use it while using the bathroom. I also had the diarreha and did take some imodium, but not a lot. I know the pain meds will constipate you, so I think that helped lesson the diarreha. I had urgency issues, and fortunatley I was able to take 2 months off of work, which I am grateful for, so I could be close to the bathroom at all times. I think you are 1 week or 2 weeks into tx, the radiation is shrinking and burning the tissue, so it gets irrittated. The bath seemed to help me the most. Remember after you are done with tx, to ask the radiologist about dialators, as you will need them to open up your vagina, as it will have shrunk, due to radiation, and you want to make sure it doesn't close. I know it hurts and just remember that the tx is short term, and that once your done, the healing process starts immediately.
I wish you well. Lori

Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2010

I was diagnosed with stage 2 anal cancer in May 2008. My treatments concluded in August of 2008. I was also given Silvadene but it did not work at all and in fact made the burns hurt more.

There were two things that helped me most while undergoing my radiation treatment.

First, after I went to the bathroom (diarreha), I filled an enamel dish tub with warm water, put it over the toilet bowel, and then carefully sat in it and cleansed myself completely. Some days this was several times an hour almost the whole day.

Secondly, my radiologist prescribed domeboro soak 3-4 x per day. Not sure if you really need an RX for this, but I got it from the druggist at the hospital. It is packets of powder that you mix with water and apply liberally with clean cloths (I cut up old soft towels and washed them for reuse). The domeboro really worked.

I hope this might help some others currently going through the grueling treatment for anal cancer.

sandra malone
Posts: 31
Joined: Apr 2010

I had all the side effects you talk bout and more. How far are you in your Tx? I ask, because the side effects worsen throughout the course of tx then begin to subside...some times months later. this is only my experience. I had the standard meds, I think. Lomtil for the direah, Phergren for the naseua, The silverdene cream (a life Saver)and pain meds. What made "It all better" was time. I am 6 months into remission and still have side effects. I wear a pad or some sort of protection all the time! I continue to be on medication for my anxiety and depression, and sometimes flare ups of pain. Alot of discomfort. THis ios 6 months post tx. But, I am here and able to talk to you, so I am grateful.There are many "faces" of cancer, not just the physical component. I find those more difficult than the pain. It could be controlled by mmeds. some things cannot. I am only being realistic, not meaning to bring you down by telling you an "instant" relief method. Time will be a great factor. Give it to yourself to feel however you want to.Talk to us, when you're ready. Till then GOD SPEED.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2003

I would strongly suggest that you call your doctor. Some folks feel like they are call the doctor for every little thing and are hesitant to pick up the phone but in this case a little thing can turn into a big thing. Make the call then while you wait soak in a warm tub of water.

Cutch's picture
Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2010

I, much like you, had rectal cancer. my tumor was pushing on both my anus and prostate. And I had lots of side effects from treatment. the Burns-the cream they gave me didn't work. If it doesn't for you try a triple antibiotic ointment. it worked great for me. as for diarrhea immodium didn't work for me, neither did the prescription. I found a banana a day worked great. Keep drinking plenty of fluids and if you have any pain meds take them. Everyone is different. Unfortunately you have to find what works best for you. Before you know it this part of treatment will be over. good luck

462lt's picture
Posts: 118
Joined: Jun 2010

Thanks for all the replys. Just saw the doctor today and he didn't offer any pain meds so I didn't ask. Should have if it doesn't get better I will. Still have to work so alittle hestiate about being drugged up. (I work on airplanes) I did get a script for sleep. That should help. I use to be more hardcore I think I'm turning into a wimp. LOL Thanks again Laura PS only through 2 weeks that sound discouraging.

Posts: 32
Joined: Jun 2010


Don't be afraid to take the pain meds - I also resisted at first, but towards the end of treatment you will definitely need it! Also be prepared to take time off from work - I thought I would be able to work right through treatment, but that wasn't the case. Hang in there, fortunately the treatment period is relatively short.


Posts: 300
Joined: May 2010

I agree with Lisa. Take the pain meds. All the doctors on my team said the same thing to me, now is not the time to tough it out. When you have pain, use the meds. Your body uses it as it needs and when pain starts to subside doesn't. For a few days I had really bad pain and took the meds and it helped. after that have not had much pain so didn't take them. I'm sure in the next weeks I will be taking them again. If unsure how you will react on them, take them when you are not working and see how you react and whether it helps.

Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2010

You're not a wimp. But I also stronly suggest you get going with some pain meds, and definitely plan to take time off work. If you are only 2 weeks into treatment, unfortunatley it does get worse. But it also ends and you heal and get better. Not sure what your treatment plan is? Radiation and chemo?

Posts: 475
Joined: Mar 2011

No pain meds helped me. I found Advil to help me with pain the most. I took up to six per day.

Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2011

Are you in post cancer treatment?

Posts: 242
Joined: Feb 2011

Take the narcotics ... be sure to take Senocot S, which is a laxative with softner as the narcotics will constipate you! I could find NOTHING that really worked except narcotics and domeboro's solution. Talk to your radiation oncologist before doing anything not recommended by he or she. I also soaked in the tub with Aveno Oatmeal bath ... it helped too. I was so swollen I could not see my vaginal opening ... and my butt and genitals were so burned I had to lay on a towel as the area oozed serous fluid. Awful. It's something you'll have to just endure to a certain extent ... keep yourself clean with a sitz bath ... I didn't use the basin, just the bag with irrigation tube. I would fill the bag with warm water and irrigate my bum and perineum with the entire bag of warm water after each bowel movement and urination. It burned like hell when I urinated about 3 weeks into the radiation ... it went away 2 weeks after treatment ended. I used the warm water irrigation each time i urinated .... it helped quite a bit. Use the pain meds and perhaps something for sleep ... I used ambien. It helped but only kept me asleep for 5 hours ... I would try to fall asleep naturally and when I woke up, which I did every night, I would take the ambien. Thinking of you dear girl. Hope this helps

Posts: 300
Joined: May 2010

That seems to be the key for this type of cancer and treatment...to find what works best for you and go with it. Triple antibiotic cream worked? I will have to put some aside on hand to try. Right now they gave me something called Pro Shield which is a clear cream hyou put on that covers the sore areas. I don't think it helps much. My doctor did mentiuon at last visit they have a morphine cream. I had never heard of this. have you? I am assuming if such a thing exists, everyone should get it for this type of treatment. I will have to ask her next week about it again and see if I can get a gallon of it. lol.

melbas's picture
Posts: 43
Joined: Jul 2010

That is how I started ou, and they kept just giving me creams, which helpd not at all.
Finally theydid the surgery to remove the hemmys, and that is when I found out that I had cancer. I guess in a way I should Thank God for them or I might not have diagnosed..I had the surgery on June 6th, but had been in and of of hospitals since January.The sugery hurts, but it's a little bit of pain for a little while, or a lot of pain for a long time. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck, Melodie

Posts: 300
Joined: May 2010

Hi Melbas, my cancer was found the same way as you, when they decided to remove the hemmys...surprised my GP and the surgeon since I had a colonoscopy two years before which is probably why they did not look further. One of the technicians at the hospital said to me that doctors are never looking for the zebra in the room of horses when things like this come up. They assume that anal cancer is so rare that they assume the symptoms are hemmys. I agree with you, the hemmy surgery was very painful but is worth it in the end. You were in the hospital for hemmys from janaury but they did not do surgery in June?

Posts: 2
Joined: Nov 2011

My husband is in the post treatment for Rectal Cancer. the doctors treated him with Radiation and Chemo Therapy and surgery. It has been three years since all treatments.

He has extreme pain when he has bowl movements and bouts of diarea. He also has the pressure pain before bowl movements.

we have tried every ointment on the market. He has been to his cancer doctor that sent him back to his GI doctor. His GI doctor says "it is what it is". He offered no magic help.
He said to see a skin doctor. that is our next stock. I was reading the blogs of some people that have gone thru the say things. I have written down all of the recommendations that people have tried. He will be trying them.

This is 2011 is there anything new? Is there a website for recipe that I can make for his type of problems.

sandysp's picture
Posts: 862
Joined: May 2011

Mine was Squamous cell cancer. It is thought of as a skin cancer but is appearing often as Anal, Lung, Liver, and Esophageal cancers I don't think we talk about this part very much but it really is important when we talk about our treatments. From what I understand this is the type that sometimes travels from the anus to the rectum rather than vice versa.
All the best,

Posts: 151
Joined: Jul 2011

You might want to try Biafine or Jean's Cream for the burns. I was prescibed Biafine after treatment and just started using Jean's Cream. It is soothing. Hugs ~Carol

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