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All TopicsForum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After → Topic: Radiation-Induced Pleurisy?

Topic: Radiation-Induced Pleurisy?

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After — What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Jul 19, 2008 01:16PM

annac wrote:

Hi - has anyone experienced pleurisy or pleuritis from radiation?

I had 10 treatments and went to the ER with severe chest discomfort (shortness of breath, real discomfort breathing or moving, especially lying flat was terrible -thought I was having a stroke or heart attack), and got a diagnosed of Radiation Induced Pleurisy -inflammation of the lining of the lungs.  HOWEVER, the radiation doctors/nurses/therapists I talked to afterwards said that couldn't be so, doesn't happen until a month after treatment ends if at all, and nothing in my heart, blood or CT scans showed any indication of pleurisy.  All the same, even with steroids prescribed in the ER, days later still feel wheezy and lightheaded with sensitivity in the chest area.  Goes nicely with the hot flashes/rapid heartbeat caused by chemo!   Would like to know if anyone else has had this. Thanks!

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Jul 20, 2008 10:31PM noella58 wrote:

I have been having shortness of breath and lightheaded feelings for a month now after my radiation therapy.My radiation oncologist said his radiation would not cause anything like this and see you later.My regular MD has started me on a steroid inhaler which helps some but I seem to have lost all my energy and still get occasional spells of shortness of breath.I have a referal to a pulmonologist but can't get in until september! This is turning into a nightmare.
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Jul 20, 2008 10:55PM annac wrote:

Hi Noella:

Thanks for your reply - not glad that you are also experiencing this but am glad to know I'm not imagining things. Can I ask at what point you developed these symptoms - during your radiation or how long after? Also, was it your regular MD who referred you to a pulmonologist and why?

The radiation oncologists I spoke to did say inflammation of the lung linings (pleuritis) could happen due to breast radiation, and if so happens a month after treatment ends, so that could be what you have.  If so, steroids do seem to be the treatment and apparently it goes away after some time. 

Like you I'm concerned about what this might be doing to my heart.  

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Jul 22, 2008 09:58AM noella58 wrote:

To Annac,

My symptoms started around the second week of radiation but seem to be getting worse.My regular MD got the referal to the pulmonologist because the radiation MD essentially blew me off.I.m so weak now I can't function at all and my husband is taking me back to our regular doctor today, We plan on   suggesting to him that this might not be asthma at all and maybe we need to try the prednisone even before I get to see the pulmonologist.What I really don't like about this whole thing is that before the radiation we questioned the radiation oncologist as to what side effects we could expect and he said the only thing would be a little "skin irritation".Well surprise,surprise radiation seems to be able to cause a lot more problems than just a little "skin irritation"! 

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Jul 22, 2008 03:27PM Liz08 wrote:

Noella58 & annac-

see my post under costochondritis.  I think radiation is capable to doing alot more harm then we know.  It's strong stuff.  It does seem like the doctors try to pass us along..it's along story but with my persistence I was able to be seen by a few different ones who have been involved in my care but initially told to see my GP, who told me to see my oncologist who told me told me to see my radiation oncologist etc.  I got passed along but the good news is that I got the same diagnosis from all of them.  I fogot to mention my naturalpath was involved with this scenero too who said the same diagnosis too.   I hope they're all right and the motrin will make this go away.  

Has any doctor said possible costochondritis or radiation pneumonitis(sp?). I hope you get some relief soon.

Dx: 1/16/08, Stage T1mic, DCIS, < 1mm microinvasion, ER-/PR-, Her2+, 0/1 nodes

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Aug 15, 2008 12:15PM, edited Aug 15, 2008 12:19PM by kathy43

I am so glad that it's not just me, thank you all for posting.  I had a similar problem with my radiation oncologist, when I went back to him for my followup appointment after the radiation I tried to describe my symptoms and he sent me for a gastroscopy which came back normal.  Within a few weeks I also went to Emergency because of breathing problems and chest pains, not as severe as yours but still very worrying.  They told me I had pleurisy and said I should take NSAID's (ibuprofen).  My CT scan, EKG and chest x-ray also showed up normal.  That was about 3 months ago.  I've been taking the NSAID's, taking it easy, and while progress has been very slow, there has been some improvement. 

 I just saw my radiation oncologist this week for another followup appointment and he disputed the pleurisy diagnosis.  They seem to really downplay the effects of radiation.  It does affect everyone differently and because this is probably fairly rare, they seem to think it doesn't exist which is very upsetting.  Anyway he is sending me to a respirologist.  I don't know what he will say, but from reading all the posts it seems that NSAID's or steroids are the likely treatments.

My symptoms are different from yours in that I am more comfortable lying down or leaning back.  I find I can then breathe with my diaphragm and not expand my chest, which is what really hurts. It also hurts when I lean forward, I probably have damage in a slightly different area. 

Thanks so much for the information, it is very upsetting when you're made to feel that your symptoms aren't real.  My radiation treatments finished over six months ago, so far I still have a very real problem, but it does seem to be improving.  Good luck everyone.

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Aug 15, 2008 04:14PM, edited Aug 15, 2008 04:15PM by sista2

oh my gosh annac, i'm so glad you started this post.  i had the same thing happen to me two nights ago.  i'd had 18 rad treatments, about halfway done, and that night started getting bad pains in the radiated (left) side of my chest.  also had pain in my left shoulder blade up into the left side of my neck and all of my left arm.  it was way worse when i layed down for me too.  i would have gone to the ER but having done that with a high fever during chemo, opted to try to get through until my rads doc's office opened in the am.  it was a horrible night.  by the time i got to his office (8am) the pain had eased some, except for when i moved (!) but i was having pain while breathing.  long story short, he sent me next door to the ER where they did all the heart tests and to a cardio for a stress test.  heart checked out fine.  my rads doc said it could be chest cartilage inflammation (couldn't remember the term although now from reading i suppose it is costochondritis) and prescribed a steroid pack and vicodin.  pain was pretty much gone that evening and no chest or breathing pain today (fri) but i feel weak and my neck still hurts.  he gave me a break from rads until monday.  he also said this is an uncommon reaction.

i too was worried that there was something wrong with my heart.  it was very scary.  good thing was i didn't have any hot flashes that night!!  guess my body was too busy dealing with PAIN!!!!

take care everyone!

Dx IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Aug 15, 2008 05:18PM Shirlann wrote:

So what else is new?  Radiologists and all their staff deny EVERYTHING!!!!!

Costochondritis, osteo-necrosis, etc., etc., etc.,

Just the way they do it.

They even denied the fatigue, for years.  They insisted it was all mental, from the stress, I wondered, "Didn't these idiots ever read about radiation sickness?"  Morons.

Ah darn, breast cancer, the gift that keeps on giving.

Hugs, shirlann 

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Aug 15, 2008 10:30PM blackjack wrote:

Thanks for starting this post as I totally disagree with the rads mds. We can develop reactions to rads that are given to us.  I developed every side effect there was from rads since day one. The first tx I had I developed burning in my left breast as if someone put a hot poke inside of me.... then 3 days later I developed an asthma  problem. Then to top it off I developed a rash all over the upper part of my chest and neck area. They told me that I was in the sun to much..no I was house bound most of the time because I was soooo tired and fatigued. I had to go on steroids and pain meds for the rash and burnt breast. Oh and yes I now have lung damage from rads.

So, please if you have symptoms let them know asap and keep telling them until you feel satisfy with your tx plan. Everyone experience's rads differently and my case was the extreme. Just wanted to share this as the SOB and chest pain you are feeling is real.

As Shirlann says: the breast cancer, the gift that keeps on giving.

Have a great evening

Remember be healthy..be happy

Blackjack

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Aug 15, 2008 11:50PM srb wrote:

OMG-ANNAC-

I could have written your discussion.  I had the EXACT same thing.  Felt like I was having a heart attack after a chest tightening for a couple of days around number 10 radiation.   Went to the ER and everything checked out fine.  They said perhaps pleurisy.  This is the conclusion I came to.  I am not a doctor so who knows but...I had axillary lymph nodes removed twice and as a result I have had a very taut muscle that stuck out about an inch from the armpit.  As I lay with my arm up for radiation it stretches that muscle more than I have in 6 months.  Since my ER trip I noticed that muscle does not stick out at all anymore and my armpit feels back to normal.  My thoughts are that there was some time of muscle pull post surgery that finally found it's way back to normal and it was a muscle strain that was causing me to lose my breath and feel as though I was having a heart attack.  Any thoughts anyone else?

SRB 

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Aug 19, 2008 09:20AM kathy43 wrote:

Shirlann, thanks for putting it so well.  I hope some medical people will read these posts and see how frustrating it is to not be listened to!

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Apr 15, 2009 12:08PM, edited Apr 16, 2009 09:20PM by pinkygirl

Was super-excited to see these posts. If anyone is still checking this, please see my post (and update, below) from a few days ago with a similar story:

MY ORIGINAL POST:

I would greatly appreciate any advice regarding the following symptoms that I am experiencing after finishing radiation (35 treatments plus a few extra days of boost treatment) over a month ago. FYI, I also had 4 cycles of AC chemo and a lumpectomy, but I really think my symptoms are related to the radiation. 

In sum, my symptoms are as follows:  

1.  Pain, sometimes sharp and stabbing, sometimes dull and achey, in various spots within (or close to) the radiation field: under my left breast, under my left shoulder blade, in the center of my chest just below my esophagus, once in my esophagus, and in both sides of my jaw.

2.  The pain is worst when I lie down, breathe deeply, or bend/stoop.

3.  I cannot physically lie down (either on my back or either side) without unbearable pain, so I sleep sitting up.

4. A few episodes of intense nausea - perhaps due to the pain?

5. Every once in a while I get a low grade fever (99.9 - 100.6)    

This has been going on for over 2 weeks now and has resulted in 3 trips to the ER; they admitted me into the hospital for 2 days after the last ER visit. Unfortunately, my problem has not yet been resolved.

Everything has been checked out and seems "normal" - EKG, CT scan, ECHO, chest xrays, bloodwork.  Thus, they have ruled out pulmonary embolism, heart attack, cracked rib, pneumonia, etc.

Everyone seems to think that nothing but the radiation could be causing this pain.  The thought is that there may have been damage to my chest wall. My radiation onc thinks it may be costochondritis.

Right now, I am taking 600 mg of Motrin every 6 hours, Lortab as needed, and 1 Zantac a day. I get to see my radiation onc and my medical onc tomorrow and am hoping to get some answers.

 Thanks in advance for any thoughts/stories/help you can provide. I'm desperate for some answers! 


Dx 8/29/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 2/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-

UPDATE POST:

In sum, my oncologists are convinced I am dealing with a radiation-induced inflammation of the lining of my lungs, heart, or a little of both (so either radiation pleuritis, pericarditis, or pleuropericarditis). I started Prednisone (steroids) tonight (the strongest anti-inflammatory medicine available - replacing the Motrin I've been on) which I'll try for a week to see if it works - if yes, I'll be on these for about 4 weeks.  Steroids have some pretty yucky side effects, but I'm at the point where I'll do just about anything to get rid of this pain.  FYI - still on the acid reducer once a day. 

They are also getting me in this week to see a cardiologist who specializes in these issues, and I'm seeing my medical onc again next Tuesday to see how the steroids are working. She seems to think that within 2-3 days, I may be feeling quite noticeably better - in fact, she said that the steroids will make me super-hyper and "eager to get back to work"  :o)  Also got a prescription for a sleeping aide and slept for 7 hours last night (as compared to 45 minutes the last 2 nights) - YAY!!!

Thanks again Shirlann for giving me that boost I needed to be strong with my docs.  My radiation onc did not seem to really be "invested" in getting this resolved once and for all - he said that pericarditis is so extremely rare and my tests did not indicate that I had it. My medical onc "got it"  though. She spent an hour with us, really heard me, and that made all the difference in the world. She said that she knows this kind of inflammation can hurt like hell.She said that the tests would not reveal one of these "itises" so early on. 

At any rate, I'm hopeful, but trying not to get too excited that we have the final answer here.  Will update again for anyone who may be interested! 

Dx 8/29/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 22, 2009 08:13AM pinkygirl wrote:

FYI for anyone who may be experiencing similar symptoms as I described above, please read through the thread I started, entitled "Intense chest & back pain AFTER radiation?" In it, I go through all my doctors' visits leading to a final diagnosis of pericarditis.  Hoping someone else will benefit from my story one day!!
Dx 8/29/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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May 16, 2009 05:18PM Carmelle wrote:

Pinkygirl,

I had those EXACT symptoms and it was sever radiation pneumonitis. Caught it by a respirologist who was my attending Onc. Needed high dosage of steroids over 4 months to clear up. 

Yesterday is History... Tomorrow is Mystery...Today is a gift.

Dx 3/7/2003, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 5/15 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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May 19, 2009 12:16AM pinkygirl wrote:

Carmelle, so happy to hear that the steroids did the trick! I've been on them for a little over a month now.  Started at 50 mg and then tapered to 25 after a few weeks, then 20 the following week. Unfortunately, after being on 20 mg for one day, I woke up the next morning with the stabbing pain in my left shoulder/back and pain in my chest when breathing.  Called my medical oncologist and she said to go back to 50 for 2 days then down to 30 - that the inflammation had not yet gone away.  Worked like a charm. Not sure how long I'll be on steroids, but for now I am enjoying all the extra energy. This experience has changed my life in ways that even BC didn't!  I truly am a different person than I was a few months ago - pretty amazing  :o)

Dx 8/29/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 14, 2009 02:12PM Transitions23 wrote:

Oh my-  I'm reading these posts and am amazed that I am not the only one going through this. Here's a very long experience fo mine.  I aplogize for the length, but if it can help someone...that's what I intend to do.

My first problem started after my 5th treatment I woke up at 2:30 in the morning  with stabbling chest pains, traveling to my left shoulder and under my shoulder blade.  It hurt to breathe in, so my breathing became very shallow. Yawning was terrible, burping or a hiccup.  I called my raidiologist and they said that I would have to follow up with a family physician.  I called a family physician and they refused to see me because of the chest pains and told me to call 911.  So the ambulance takes me to the hospital.

CT Scan and XRays were clear, so I was admitted for evaluaiton and further testing.  On the coronary floor there was a lot of blood work.  The corisil test for the adremal gland showed a slow response but they said the range was nothing to be alarmed about and I had low potassium..  The did an endoscopy (SP?) for the upper GI and that was fine. I was given potassium, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory meds and pain killers intraveniously. The hospital doctors seemed to feel it was radiation induced, but not my radiologist.  I felt like I was stuck in the middle-still with no answer to my problem.  I was released without a diagnoses and continued my radiation. 

The radiologists completely denied that this could be a product of the radiation..leaving me to feel helpless and fairly stupid. She said that in her 18 years she had never seen radation do this to anyone and I appreciate that...but, it's happening to me and strangely I felt like I had to apologize to her for not being the best patient.  I did apologize.  Then I became confused over what to think. 

It then happened to me again after my 25th treatment.  It woke me up at 6:30 am. .  Movement, laying, bending over, picking my legs up and even sitting was too uncomfortable.  It seemed anything that put pressure to my midsection put me into a lot of pain.  The kind of pain you can't deal with or manage on your own.  So, another trip to the hospital.  The same things happened.  I was admitted for evaluation and a few more test.  The hopital doctors in the emergency room again stated they thought it was related to the radiation.  Again, the radiologist did not believe this was possible.  So, I left the hopital on Monday with a prescription of 800 mg Ibuprofen for the inflamation, Omeprazole to keep the Ibuprofen from irritating the stomach and a pain killer, and a pain killer if the pain got too bad. Still no diagnosis though.

 I followed up with a family doctor as I was told to.  They took a chest XRay and he said the left upper lobe appeared pleuretic.  I was shocked to hear that because I had already taken numerous chest XRays and two CT scans, and no one said they showed anything. I was prescribed Carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant for pain. I went home.  

I started gathering myself together for going back to work.  All of the sudden, it happens again on July 10th while I'm visiting my daughter & sister in NC.  It started as bearable but eventually intensified. I drove home popping the Ibuprofen. It kept the edge off for a while, but the pain never went away.  I couldn't bend over at all without immense pain.  This time the pain traveled into my shoulders-mostly the left one, the back of my neck and my jaws.    I was sleeping propped up on pillows because when I lay flat, it hurt and I couldn't breathe.  I felt like there was no room to breathe.  But I tried to manage the pain myself with the Ibuprofen and stomach meds. When I got home on the 12th, I felt pretty rough.  So I tried one of the carisoprodols that the family physician had described.  At this point the Ibuprofen wasn't cutting it anymore and I was taking them too often.  I got up and washed dishes until the medicine took effect. It felt better to stand up than anything. But, it never gave relief, so I took another Ibuprofen. I propped myself up to sleep-not so great of sleep.  On the thirteenth I woke up and the rest of the day was a struggle.  It got too bad to cope and I was standing on my toes now.  So, I called the oncologist and she said I should go to the ER because she didn't think it was anything "We" have done to you.  I was shocked to hear that statement because I never pointed fingers at anyone or a facility...just the radiation.  And that was based on other doctor's opinions.  So again, no answers and I head to the ER. 

Then I met one of the the best doctors in the world.  Anyone could hope to have one like him.  He listened with care and then he explained different things I could be dealing with.  What he DID NOT do is tell my I wasn't dealing with anything. Bless him. He then proceeded to look over all of my other tests and do a few more through blood work at the hospital. He returned and told me I had symptoms of pleurisy and he thought that it was a result of the radiation and he understands that the radiology department doesn't want to except this information, but from his total assessment, this is the result of radiation. Other tests already done had ruled out other possiblities. Then he explained where the pain came from and how it all worked.  He also said if I didn't get this damaged lobed opened up by expanding the lung with deep breathing, worse case scenario, is that I could end up with pneumonia and could lose that lung.  Thank GOD for this man.  He explained and made sense like I'd never had.  He said it could take up to a year or longer for this to fully heal, but that depends on the person as an individual.  He also set me up with a stress test, which is something I've wanted done because of the radiation to the heart as well.  I'm out of breath when I walk and that doesn't make sense to me.  I love to walk and jog and miss this so much.  

I hope this has helped someone.  If these things are happening to you..print these out and show them to you onco or radiologist.  If they've never seen these symptoms before, then remind them they've never had you as a patient before.  They say they treat us as individuals when treating cancer, because our cancers aren't the same and don't always act or respond the same.  This theory should be used as theory with radiation patients too.   I have no clue why any radiologist would be afraid to assume that this is happening.  Makes no sense!  Good luck to all of you through your journeys.

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Jul 15, 2009 10:09AM Mary22 wrote:

It is amazing and comforting to know others are going through the same thing.

My pain started about a month after my rads ended. I just wrote it off as a s/e from coughing due to asthma and sinus infection that I was treated for. Dr listened to my lungs and heart and said everything sounded good. After I finished antibiotics (for sinus infection), I had my appt w/ genetic counselor and Med onc, both said pain was normal and listened to heart and lungs and felt around the area.

Rads eneded April 15, pain started near the middle to end of May, and needless to say I still have moderate to severe pain. This friday I see a gyno surgeon who specializes in fertility to dicuss ooph/ hyster due to positive BRCA2 results, I will again ask him to check it out. Then on July 23, I see my rads onc for follow and on July 29 I see my breast surgeon, so hopefully w/in the next week or so I will get some answers.

Mary K. BRCA2+

Dx 12/4/2008, DCIS, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 15, 2009 10:16AM Mary22 wrote:

Oops, I forgot to thank Transition23 for sharing her story, since I already have asthma it is something to discuss w/my docs. That feels so strange to say docs. I use to only have 2 and only see them each once a year. Gyno ofr obvious reasons and PC for annual sinus infection and new RX's for asthma. Now I have Rads onc, med onc, breast surgeon, genetic counselor,gyno, gyno surgeon,and PC, this is something I am not use to.

Mary K. BRCA2+

Dx 12/4/2008, DCIS, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 10, 2010 11:49AM sandrakay123 wrote:

I had 20 radiation treatments out of 33 when severe pain in my mid-chest, across my shoulders and down my left arm sent me to the ER, where the ER doc said it was pleurisy related to the radiation treatment I'd been getting to my left breast. My rariation oncologist said he'd never seen pleurisy related to radiation before, and he's been in practice for some time. He did admit the relation was a possibility, though. Everyone in the radiation department that I have contact with, said they'd never seen it before, but they all believed my concern that it was a possibility and a nurse even said to me "We learn so much from you (patients)", I urged them to search "radiation and pleurisy" which was what I did to find this forum. Pain meds and rest have helped me feel much better, I only missed two treatments, but I am worried that it'll happen again.

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Jun 18, 2010 09:52PM blueballoon wrote:

Reading this discussion thread has been a ray of hope for me!  I'm not the only one! Right after I finished radiation to the left breast (23 days whole breast + 7 days boost), my breathing was labored, I felt a lot of pressure on my heart, and my BP shot way up.  I went to the cardiologist, did an echo, and he said, "Your heart is fine."  Without ever looking at the radiation graphs, he said, "You weren't radiated through your heart. It's just stress."  I had seen the radiation graphs, and I KNEW the heart and lungs HAD been hit. I was taking 800mg to 1200 mg of ibuprofen a day, and it wasn't doing the trick.  Finally, I went to the ER, did an EKG, chest x-ray and blood work, and was told again, "It's probably stress."  My next door neighbor is a good friend who knows me well -- and also happens to be a psychiatrist -- and she agreed with me, "It's not stress."  I suffered for a month, and then finally went to the radiation oncologist for my one-month follow-up appt. I told her very calmly (well rehearsed) that my ribs hurt a lot and I had been experiencing a lot of pressure on my heart and lungs.  When I said the words, "Emergency Room," she suddenly had fear on her face, then basically WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM.  It was unbelievable.  It was more important for her to cover her rearend for fear of a lawsuit than to discuss the problem with me and find a solution.  I'm now one and half months out from my last radiation and I'm feeling slightly better, but I'm not normal by any means.  I am so disillusioned with the doctors.  Thanks for this thread!

Dx 2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 1/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 20, 2010 08:11PM Irishred wrote:

wow  after the first four days,l i experienced horrible pains in my shoulder, neck and left arm.  Since that time the tests and doctors realized it had caused a  protruding disk and total nerve damage in my left arm/  The doctors tell you NOTHING.  Always visit this website before doing anything.l  If I had known all this before hand, I would have totally passed on radiation.l

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Jun 20, 2010 08:12PM Irishred wrote:

And yes I have chronic brochitis and pleurisy all the tim,e now.

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Jun 22, 2010 07:25PM BarbaraA wrote:

WOW, irish. You have chronic lung issues now? I am 4 tx in and on Sat after 2 tx, the dry cough started. Then after tx4 today, the left lung feels heavy and I cannot draw a deep breath. Going to the radonc after tx tomorrow and hopefully won't get the run-around.

Sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield.

Dx 4/30/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 1/4 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 2, 2010 11:25AM precioustime wrote:

I had 33 Rad treatments including the mediastinal area.  2 weeks into treatments I had developed a dry cough and was told it couldn't be from Rads so soon.  It is now 3 1/2 months post Rads and have had a recent PET/CT scan-- the good news is that there is no evidence of tumor-- the other news is that there was mild pleural inflammatory changes likely secondary to radiation therapy.

Not sure if pleurisy is the same?

I have not had any sharp pains as some of you have described -- only really notice when I wake up in the morning -- cough with mucous and then if I have a good laugh-- I cough.

I had a 6 month follow up with the surgeon yesterday and he said "pneumonitis" -- is probably what I have and that there is really nothing you can do about it -- that it's probably at it's worse right now -- 3 months post Rads. 

Since Rads -- I was put on a 4 week regimen of steroids which worked amazingly -- a few weeks after steroids -- I noticed a cough with a lot of mucous and was then put on Albuterol inhaler which seems to help a little. 

Dx 6/9/2009, IDC, Stage IIIc, Grade 2, 12/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2010 09:22AM plb1951 wrote:

Just though I would share my experience.  Just finished radiation therapy on my right breast, and have all the signs and symptoms...bad pain when I take a deep breath, a lot of discomfort lying flat on my back or even slightly elevated, dry cough with chest pain.  The pain is right behind and under my right breast.  It started after about 19 treatments.  However, after about 8 or 9 treatments, I developed a horrible burn in my right armpit with blisters.  It was oval and about 3 to 4 inches high and 2 to 3 inches across.  The rad onc. said it couldn't be from the radiation, that it was probably a bacterial infection or possibly an inflamed ingrown hair.  Went forward with the treatments and within a week, my entire breast was very inflamed.  After my 19th treatment, he suggested I take a week off (which ended up being 2 weeks) during which time my burn area peeled and was fine (also said he had only seen one or two people have that type of reaction in the 13 years he has been doing this).  However during that time was when I started experiencing the discomfort behind my chest wall.  Talked to him about it at my last treatment and he said it could possibly be similar to pleurisy due to the treatments, but it was rare.  Suggested steroids, I declined, as I would like to see if it takes care of itself.  Currently taking 600 mg Advil at night before going to bed and it helps.  Certainly hope it is not going to be a chronic problem, but reading all your posts, it definitely has me worried.  Thanks for all you input and I hope I didn't run on too long, but wanted to share my experience. 

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Aug 26, 2010 07:16PM Lara86 wrote:

Hi. I found this thread earlier today when I did a google search on radiation pleuritis.

I've been experiencing the exact same symptoms for the past eight days. Lying flat, taking deep breaths and bending forward all cause excruciating pain that feels like someone is stabbing the center of my chest with a butcher knife. When I do try to take a deep breath, I wheeze and rattle. I've been having to sleep sitting on my couch, which is hard on my neck and shoulders. I also have a spongy mass where the pain is that is golf ball-sized and very tender to the touch. Surprised

Mine started in the middle of the night when I awoke to go to the bathroom and felt the stabbing pain as I got out of bed. It also hurt to inhale. I happened to have an appointment today with my surgeon for a re-check on my mastectomy (that was done in February) so I told him what I had been experiencing. He also felt the mass. That's when he told me he was pretty sure it was radiation pleuritis. I finished my 33 treatments in April, and they also left me with 2nd and 3rd degree burns and unable to wear a bra for a month afterward. My R.O. told me at the beginning of treatment that I would probably burn worse than most due to my very fair Irish skin.Just to be sure, my surgeon had me get a chest x-ray today, and I will find out the results when I see my oncologist Sept. 13.

After reading what many of you have experienced with your R.O.'s, I'm appalled ... and thankful I was blessed with a great team of doctors and nurses. I said, "I didn't know radiation could cause this." My surgeon said, "Oh yeah, it most definitely can." So there are doctors out there who aren't afraid of the truth. Don't lose hope.

 

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Sep 3, 2010 11:32AM worldwatcher wrote:

Has anyone heard of this condition surfacing after the partial breast irradiation or brachytherapy?  I just finished five days of rads with the Contura balloon.  I would be curious to hear from women who had the MammoSite treatment also.

From the website:

Contura's radiation balloon creates a vacuum to conform and adhere closely to the lumpectomy site.

A targeted radiation dose will then be administered only where it is needed in the breast, sparing exposure to otherwise normal breast tissue. Treatment time is reduced to just five days instead of over six weeks. This illustration shows 4 offset catheters inside the balloon to nudge the dose away from the skin or chest wall and provides suction to remove fluid or air in the breast tissue around the balloon.

Lumpectomy, 7/2010, clean PET scan 8/2010, Contura five-day rads, No chemo. Tamox 3/11, clean bone scan 5/2011,clean mammo/ultrasound 8/2012, small seroma gradually shrinking with no problems.

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Nov 18, 2010 06:28PM rubyz wrote:

Welcome Dr Weiss, I'm sorry that you are a patient now. You were my Dr. 10 years ago. I too went on the chemical hunt. I changed  everything. No bras, no antiperspirants, organiic food, no hair spray, etc, etc. Read a great book by English PHd geologist, "You Are In Control of Your Life". She believes that we have too much plastic  near our food. I stopped storing food in plastic bags.

Nowe after  8 years the pains in my chest have started. Three very bad attacks, thought I was having a heart attack.. Drs in hospital didn;'t  know what it was. Finally an Emergency dr  in neighborhood Urgent Care diagnosed it as Costochondritis.

What is your opinion  on this   common side effect? Do I have to live with this forever, with only ibuprofin and acetaminophen to control? Thanks

R

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Jan 25, 2011 07:31PM gsegura wrote:

I'm extremely grateful my husband found this discussion topic as,  I'm in the same situation than all of you.  I'm 11 Radiation treatments away from finishing. On around the 8th out of 30 treatment,  I started having extreme pain in my neck,  throat,  chest and heart.  I couldn't barely breath or lay down to sleep.  I went to my treatment crying not being able to breath and all nurses and doctors denied that this symtoms could be radiation related by any means and told me to go to the ER.  The pain intensified to the point I thought I broke a neck or clabicle bone and went to see an orthopedic specialist.  He immediately got a nurse and sent me to the ER concern that it was my heart.  I was hospitalized and found my heart and lungs were perfect but inflammed with water on them.  My diagnosis was Radiation Induced Pleurisy -inflammation of the lining of the lungs and heart only on the left breast area (the side being treated)  After I got out of the hospital 4 days later I went to my Radiation Oncologist and they continued denying the side effect.  They told me it could be stress or maybe Fibromialgia.  Not a very comforting diagnosis since the last thing you want to hear is that you have another disease in top of breast cancer. I feel so much better rignt now knowing I'm not the only one going through this. I'm terrified this condition could become chronic and I would very much appreciate to hear from others that have healed from it.  Thank you everybody and I wish you much health.

Gloria

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Mar 8, 2011 06:07PM KCinIL wrote:

I started my radiation treatment 2/21. By the 4th day, I had a slight pain in my chest behind my breast. On the 5th day (Friday), it was worse. I mentioned it to the onc nurse and she said if it was still bothering me on Monday, we'd check it out. The next night I went to the ER because it hurt so much to breathe, turn my head, bend down or raise my arm. I wanted to tough it out since the nurse didn't seem that worried the day before but I was afraid it might be something serious. They did an EKG, lung X ray and cat scan and determined it was pleurisy. They gave me an IV of and a prescription for prednisone for the fluid and dilaudid for the pain. I went home and felt better by Sunday. While taking the Prednisone last week, I didn't have the pleurisy problem. I hope it stays that way. When I told my rad onc yesterday that the ER said it was pleurisy, he said radiation doesn't cause that. I'm glad I've read this thread because now I know it's more common than he's telling me. This week though, I've had bouts of dizziness that come and go. Is that a side effect of radiation?

Dx 12/22/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Mar 11, 2011 03:42AM, edited Mar 11, 2011 03:43AM by kalyson

I am afraid to get radiation therapy after reading this thread.   I had a lumpectomy - stage 1, 1cm, neg lymph nodes, ER+/PR+/Her2-/BRCA- .   Oncotype Dx not back yet.   I don't want to do HT or Rads.

The doctors people are talking about here are liars and cowards.   I wonder about the statistics they give you about SEs.   How real can they be when the doctors are in a state of denial about what is happening?

Stage I,mucinous, low grade, 1 cm, 0/1 nodes, BRCA-,Her2-, ER+PR+, lumpectomy (rt breast), clear margins, oncotype 12

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