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A rad onc weighs in on radiation "burns"

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  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited August 2012
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    Metro - Hang in there, you're almost there! You're in the home stretch. Take it easy and rest when you can.

    HAPPY SATURDAY!

  • TonLee
    TonLee Member Posts: 1,589
    edited August 2012
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    Hang in there Metro.  The last two weeks were BRUTAL when I did it...but you bounce back pretty quick.  Be prepared for the radiation blues to set in the last two weeks tho. :)

  • Beachnut
    Beachnut Member Posts: 4
    edited August 2012
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    Hello everyone,

    Thought I would post to mention what I'm going through, in hopes I can gain some useful information.  I had my lumpectomy in June, 2 nodes removed, clear margins & now have 4 days left of rads (from a total of 33 days)...my breast is a dark red/brownish color...armpit is kind of tight to move...red burn like area underneath breast, in the crease..I did the Domeboro soaks, but even though that gave me a feeling of relief, it didn't seem to take it away.  Now that the whole breast isn't being treated (& only the incision area), I can treat the area under my breast.  I am confused on what to put on there.  RO suggested:  neosporim; vasoline gauze pads and/or Calmoseptine ointment to use at night.  My RO Dr did mention I could use a lotion with vitamin K, once the redness in my breast was gone.  Right now, I use Gold Bond lotion w/aloe and smear my breast with that a few times a day.  I don't wear a bra - only a tank top.  I am pretty large breasted & it hurts to even bend over, as it kind of "pulls", so I find myself actually holding my breast in the cup of my hand for relief.  I am counting each day until the end.  Right now, I am confused on what to put under my breast - should it be lotion, ointment or a particular powder??  I've been reading all of the posts & have some ideas.  I asked my doctor last week (I meet & talk w/him once a week on things) - he mentioned the lotion with vitamin K, but I don't remember what he said for underneath my breast.  They keep telling me to get air circulating around that area.  Well, fine, but I can't just lay around, holding my breast up to let air in there all day long..any suggestions or advice would help.  Thank you all so much, Becky

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited August 2012
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    Beachnut - I used OTC lotion - Aquaphor (liberally and often) and the Cancer Center gave me an Rx cream Silvadeen which helped a lot. Pure Aloe Vera also helped. Also steeped black tea soaks might help. On the plus side, it sounds like your skin reacted about the same as mine and for me the soreness stopped fairly quickly once the rads stopped. The itchiness lasted longer but I've dealt with that with a lidocaine gel and/or aloe.

    Hope you're feeling better soon.Smile

  • ro-berta
    ro-berta Member Posts: 21
    edited August 2012
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    Hi Beckey, I am experiencing the same thing girl, I have a few more treatments to go also, I have been doing basically the same thing as you. I have been using aloe vera pure gel with  glaxal base cream. I have full breast rads. Also started to fold non-stick pads, after I cream I fold the pads in half and place in under my breast in fold to avoid skin on skin friction. This seems to help ( so far). The tightening and pain come with the territory I hold myself if i have to bend down and wear a very loose t-shirt ( cotton) as it is soft. I haven,t worn a bra for months and ohhhhhh does THAT feel good hahaha. Goood luck girl i hope it feels better soon. I know I am counting the days till i finish myself. OH and by the way I do hold up my boob to get some air to it when no one is homeWink

        roberta

  • Beachnut
    Beachnut Member Posts: 4
    edited August 2012
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    Thanks guys, I just got back from treatment and the store.  I looked all over the store for some of the things I found on these posts - couldn't find anything.  I did find what was called "2nd skin"...they are little lubricated pads..I have one on now and I guess its ok...I will let you know.  I see my Dr. on Friday, so I will ask him about it.  I never could imagine that having big breasts would cause so much heartache (the after affects of all this)...I wish I had small ones now - is that weird to say??

    Well, thanks for your help.  I might have to ask the pharmacy for some of what is mentioned on these posts....I hate the itching!!!  Maybe I should just close all the blinds & go topless with the fan pointing at it.....ha ha ha!  hubby would love that!  lol

    Hugs, Becky 

  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited October 2012
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    I am new here and it has been a crazy 2 mos. I am starting rads on Thursday. I have DCIS stage 0 grade 2. It was discovered during a mammogram. I went through the biopsy etc and ended up with a lumpectomy. The margins were not clear so I had to have a second one done. I have an autoimmune disease and am on a small dose of steroids. It makes me heal a bit slower. I wanted to wait 3 mos for rads and be completely healed but my radiation dr said I run the risk of the cancer coming back. If I am DCIS stage 0 and it is contained what exactly is coming back?

    Anyway I am scared to death of starting radiation. Especially the burns. I have really sensitive skin. I rashed up from the cleaning stuff they used during surgery. Nobody has told me what bra to use or creme or anything. Maybe they do it the day you start but I would feel better knowing ahead of time. I have not seen the mapping they did last week. It was not offered. After reading this forum I have a lot more questions.

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited October 2012
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    Peronsnally, at stage 0, and a RO using scare tactics already, I would seek a second opinion and probably another RO. I waited six weeks after my surgery because I was slow to heal from the surgery at my surgeons recommendation. I was cautioned not to start radiation before I healed completely because once I started it, the wound would not heal. My RO and MO had no problem with that. But that's a personal decision you will need to make.

    As for what you need for radiation, it can vary depending on the center where you are receiving your treatment and how your skin reacts. Some have more skin issues than others. I have very sensitive skin and expected it to be worse than it was. My center recommended Aquaphor for my lotion. I've also seen candula oil and some other heavier lotions like Eucerin recommended. Put it on after treatment and several times a day. You can't use it for 2-3 hours before your treatment because it can interfere with things, but be diligent about using it. Again, depending on your skin, you will have varying amounts of redness and may experience some itching and soreness. Pure aloe vera helps. I didn't get too red, but had a lot of itching, so I was given Silvadene cream by the center and later a Rx lidocaine. No deoderant with aluminum in it. I used Tom's, which can be found in health food stores (and a few regular stores), but you can also use corn starch. The corn starch can also be used under the breast it you have chafing.

    Bras really depend on your comfort level and breast size. No underwire for sure. I know some people found sports bras better, but they were uncomfortable for me. After the first couple of weeks, I went with out one whenever possible. I had a couple of camisole type shirts with a built in bra that weren't too tight, so I wore those a lot. Toward the end I just wore baggy t-shirts. Just be aware that the lotions are greasy, so I'd recommend just wearing a t-shirt or something you won't care about if it gets a stain; especially for sleeping. 

    I'm sure the other ladies will have recommendations for you. Good luck. I know it seems like a long time, but it really does go quite quickly. You may want to check the topic board. There are several groups that have ladies that are going through radiation at the same time that get together to compare notes and share what's working (or not working) for them. I found that to be very helpful for me.

    Hugs.

  • bhd1
    bhd1 Member Posts: 173
    edited October 2012
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    So I have what looks like a rash. It appeared 2 wks after palliative rads to brachial plexus. Is this missing skin?

  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited October 2012
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    Thanks Mini1. That was very helpful. I spoke with my BC coordinate and got some answers. Then I spoke to my RO more. This was my second opinion. I live in Lansing. There are only 2 places to go here for this. I called U of Mi and they use one of the hospitals here so they both are the same. I could not figure out why I needed rads with a stage 0. They advise it because I was grade 2 not 1 and had to have 2 lumpectomies for clear margins. They say that if you are stage0, grade 1 and er/pr neg they just stop there. Mine was more spread out. Oyyoy!!

    I did pick up some Aquaphor and some Aloe Vera gel today from Walmart. I was told not to use a harsh soap and I use Cetiphil soap normally and rock salt deodorant. I hope it will be ok. I was worried because I rash up with everything it seems. I start tomorrow and I will probably need a Valium. Cry

  • Leah_S
    Leah_S Member Posts: 1,929
    edited October 2012
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    Barb, I had a rash from rads, too. I was told it's called "radiation dermatitis" and I uses 1% cortisone cream on it and it cleared up. But before it did, BOY did it itch!

    Leah

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited October 2012
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    Pure aloe vera helps with the itching too. When that stopped working, they gave me a Rx lidocaine gel.

  • bhd1
    bhd1 Member Posts: 173
    edited October 2012
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    thanks much ladies

  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited October 2012
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    My main concern is that I get contact dermatitis so easy. Both lumpectomies I reacted to the cleaning stiff used on my body for surgery. Only thing that helped was Calidryl lotion and I do not see that listed on what you can use on the skin during treatment so we will see. I had to use it 3 times a day and keep a Kleenex under my breasts to protect them. UGH!!

    My second concern is my Sarcoidosis...immune disorder. Kind of like lupus. Not fun and flares very easy. I am already on 5mgs of steroid daily the last 6 years to control it. We will see. After reading some older posts it looks like the worst is in the last 10 treatments. Lets hope I get that far.

  • RealtorJackie
    RealtorJackie Member Posts: 9
    edited October 2012
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      I have sarcoid, and very sensitive skin.  My skin never opened up.  I aired the skin each day, and used Aquafor liberally.  I only wore a loose cotten bra when i had to, and wore a soft cotten cami against my skin, putting the bro OVER it.

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited October 2012
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    I have very sensitive skin too, but didn't have near the problem I thought I would. I also thought the parts that had never seen sunshine would be the worst, but actually it's the opposite. The part that's been exposed to the sun is already thinner because it's already damaged and thus experiences more redness and peeling. The redness and peeling aren't burns, btw; it's that the skin that we naturally slough off can't regenerate itself as normal skins does, so the skin layers become less dense.

  • Nickyy13
    Nickyy13 Member Posts: 4
    edited October 2012
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    Thank you for your informative post. I am just in the middle of chemo (aka Jungle Juice lol)

    will start radiation after my last chemo (Dec 19 - nice Christmas present to myself!!!)

    My radiation is going to be 5 days a week for 5 weeks I am told. Followed by Herceptin.



  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited October 2012
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    Well ladies I am done with my 10th treatment today. Feeling a lot of fatigue, still some nausea and other things but overall I am doing ok. I am surprised that my skin made it this far without a major breakdown. I count my blessings and take it a day at a time. All of the advice given here has really helped because my RO still insists that my SEs are not radiation. Just knowing that others have had some of my issues made me feel better. I also found a nurse that is really considerate and told me I am just very sensitive and we will get through it. She said she had a lady so bad once they had to give her 10 treatments and 3 days off each time till done. Wow that was something to hear.

    I have not worn a bra at all. I tried one day a Genie stretch bra and it rubbed so I am going to stay like I am. I stole all my boyfriends white cotton t shirts and wear them around under my sweatshirt or jacket. I intend to use Aloe Vera from now on even when I am done.

    I will be checking in but wanted to say thanks for all the support.

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited October 2012
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    I'm glad you're doing so well. You're a third of the way there! Stay rested and hydrated. You'll be finished in no time! :-)

  • KBP
    KBP Member Posts: 7
    edited October 2012
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    Your comprehensive report on radiation causing 'missing skin' is the most refreshing information.  Even my own Rad Onc couldn't explain it that well.  I was very concerned because I'm a redhead, and 'burn' very easily. As it turned out, I had bilateral radiation and babied my skin with cream and kept both covered with a few non-stick telfa pads, which felt good. I had to 'cool' my skin with cream 3-5 x a day. I got through my 7 weeks with redding but not blistered skin. However, I had a lot of sore heated pain and took Advil and Tramadol to get through.  3 years hence, I'm still experiencing tenderness and soreness time to time. I swim to maintain muscle and range of motion.

  • bushturkey
    bushturkey Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2012
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    Thanks so much for this information.  Just stumbled on it today - a critical stage as I am just ending my 5th of 6 weeks of radiation - great explanation to understand what is happening - I have been dreading adding to the "burn" but now realise what will be will be, as they say!!!!   I had a very early (L) DCIS (discovered on routine Mammogram), lumpectomy in early September and require only the radiation (but after reading through a few articles in this website,  I will just double check on the hormone story!). 

    I was searching for info on aloe vera, (I was recommended to use the natural gel by a friend who is a homeopath) and I am extremely glad I have followed that advice after reading this article and the comments.  Interested to see someone's comment re sun exposure as I have exactly that, my boobs have never been "out there" and although very red, the worst of the soreness is in the chest area - I look like someone stuck an iron on it!!!  This was explained to me by the dr and the nurses at the oncology centre.  Thanks again for this article and all the posts - it does help to confirm you are not the only one!!!!  Cheers and all the best to everyone xxx

  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited November 2012
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    Becky and friends,

    I was wondering what you did about the skin under the breast in the fold. I am 2 treatments out from being done and it has not been easy. Last week when they started the boost area they discontinued the little lifter thing they used under the breast saying it was no longer needed. Might be just timing but now I have an intense itching right in the crease and I am also bigger breasted. I put a little klenex under there so it will not get moist and rub. I was thinking you are done and healed now so I was curious what worked for you.

    I am using Aloe Vera gel on my entire breast area and underneath. I also use Aquaphor on the scar and nipple area. So far so good there but that spot in the fold is awful. It is not an open sore but the skin looks sort of greyish red in that crease. I can not use silvadene because of the sulfur base.

    I will take any suggestions.

  • schoolmom
    schoolmom Member Posts: 327
    edited November 2012
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    I will be getting 5-6 weeks radiation after I finish chemo in Jan.  The first chemo was not too bad so now I am looking on to see what is next.  I will have to go back to work then and concerned about wearing bras/clothes etc throughout the treatment.  I am going to look into the prone position.  Anyone do that?  Mine is left side so concerned. 

    Imagining terrible redness and soreness...

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited November 2012
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    You might to try some corn starch under your breast. Also, I got a Rx lidocaine gel that helped a lot.

  • BUNKIE10
    BUNKIE10 Member Posts: 670
    edited November 2012
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    Please tell me someone here has had a cold after rads and did ok. First a kidney stone from dehydration and now it feels like a cold/asthma. I used my inhaler and it did nothing much. Will call my lung dr in the am to see if they can do a treatment. If not I know they will send me to the ER....which is where I do not need to be. I will have to use my blue ugly mask for sure.

    The good news is that my skin under the breast is peeling and starting to heal some. One crisis at a time.  

  • SaraT
    SaraT Member Posts: 3
    edited December 2012
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    Spinnerpom,



    Thank you for the explanation and clarification of external radiation. It was VERY educational.



    I have just completed 7 of 29 treatments and after the second treatment I could already feel some pain in the area. The area that seems to be sensitive to the radiation is under my right arm in the area where I lost a lot of lymph nodes during surgery. I get treated in three different places. The first treatment goes for about a minute and I can feel it (although I thought I imagined it). I am surprised because everything I read and was told, I probably would not have any reaction or side effects until around the 5th week. Now I am wondering what kind of pain and damage I'm in for after only 7 treatments!



    Thanks again for the education. I have a few questions for my oncologist on Wednesday.

  • Mini1
    Mini1 Member Posts: 1,309
    edited December 2012
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    Your pain could be from your surgery. Raw nerve endings take time to heal. I had the same thing. Radiation can aggravate it, but sometimes it's what we do physically that casues it. Sometimes though I had no pain at all. It was very random. Don't get discouraged. It will be over soon. Hugs

  • terrikoala
    terrikoala Member Posts: 5
    edited December 2012
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    I started getting a red 'rash' on chest above breast in week 3 of Rads. Very little redness on or under breast.  RO said it was radiiation burn and to use Cortisone on it. She said the skin on the chest is  thin and if its been sunburned before its  more susceptible  and that is my case for sure.  It really hurts and itches at same time. I have been using Cortisone cream and it helps with the itch but the burn is not healing and the area burned is getting larger. I am looking for something over the counter that I can buy that might help heal. I have used Aloe, Eucerin and other things all during Rads to keep breast moist,etc. Any suggestions?

    I have all sorts of ointments for  eczema and psoriasis that I get sometimes  but not sure if any of them are ok to use so I am looking them up today.

    Thanks

    Terri

  • restforyoursoul
    restforyoursoul Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2012
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    Greetings! 

    Just finishing 34 days of radiation after chemotherapy!  From my own experience I found Lavendar essential oils mixed with aloe work wonders.  My sin never broke, peeled or had sores.  In fact the Techs at the Rad Onc said my skin looked really good.  Lavendar oils have healing properties and I've used it for years.   I also used the silver cream and kenalog a sun screen both scripts from my doctor.  The most important piece of info I can give is communicate with your doctor.  Don't be afraid to ask questions or tell him/her what you think or feel!  Validation of whay you're going through is just as important as the treatment!  God Bless you!  Laurie

  • alexmom55
    alexmom55 Member Posts: 3
    edited December 2012
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    I had 26 radiation treatments before they had to suspend them Monday because of the open wounds under my arm.  I'm supposed to have 2 more and 5 boosts.  He said he might not do the last 2 regular treatments.  I'm hoping to get some information and support from someone who has had a similar situation to mine.  The area under my arm is so raw and hurts so bad, I can't hardly move my arm.  I have some open wounds on my chest but they're not nearly as painful.  I used Miaderm until I needed a better coating and switched to Aquaphor.  Now I am using Domeboro soaks and Silvadene.  There is some yellowish discharge so they started me on oral antibiotics today.  I'm pretty confident that I'm doing the right things, but I need someone to tell me when it will start to feel better.  I have a great support group but nobody has had this experience.  One of them is a member of this group (you know who you are in Ohio).

    My doctor is good but he doesn't show any compassion and like other doctors I've read about on here, his favorite phrase is "It's not caused by the radiation."  He also blames the bad burning on some of my "less than healthy" ways.

    After 2 months with 3 surgeries, almost 4 months of chemo and now this, sometimes I don't think I will ever feel really good again.

    Thank you for any help.

    Kelly