All Topics → Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After → Topic: Itching - post radiation by a long shot?
Posted on: Dec 7, 2007 11:51AM - edited Dec 7, 2007 11:51AM by imgonnamakeit
Ok. Here's one that no-one has been able to figure out and it's driving me nuts. Warning: it's a long winded one.
In December of 1998, I finally saw my third dermatologist who diagnosed my itchy red spots as Grovers. I took Accutane from December until April of 1999 and it went away and hasn't returned...at least I don't think so...
Fast forward to July of 2004 when I was diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ), had a lumpectomy without any clear margins so a second lumpectomy was done the following month followed by 7 weeks of radiation ending in December of 2004. No visual side effects of radiation. So far so good.
Fast forward another 9 months or so when I had consults for breast reconstruction. Ended up going with implants under the muscle. Unfortunately the first surgery was not successful as the implant did not move down into the pocket (first sign of non-visible radiation issues). Second surgery forced the implant into the pocket and had temporary sutures put above. Huge amount of scar tissue formed along with capsular contracture.
At about this time, I saw my dermatologist as I had been itching in about the place where the original biopsy was done to diagnose Grovers. Unfortunately the DCIS was in about the same area. He did not see signs of Grovers and indicated that it might be from radiation effects even though it was months and months later. The oncologist didn't know what could be the cause and the radiation oncologist did not think it was from radiation.
Third surgery removed the capsule and scar tissue. Still had muscle spasms and pain from hard scar tissue near the bottom. Fourth surgery removed more scar tissue. Itching at the same site would come and go.
Ended up having the initial incision open which exposed the implant (yep - chest muscle had thinned so much you could see the implant). PS restitched the area and it reopened again. Intent of the fifth surgery was to remove a wedge of unhealthy skin and restitch opening closed to healthier skin. Not only did the same spot reopen but a quarter sized opening in the lower quadrant opened up. In May, the implant and alloderm (reinforcement tissue) were removed and a large bandage was put in place.
My family doctor did not like the look of the wound or the fluid that was continuously flowing and he took a culture. Came back as Pseudonomas Aeruginosa. Started me on CIPRO.
Saw the Infectious Disease doctor in June and we continued with cultures and bloodwork continuously. She had me see a wound specialist who told me to use Aquacel AG for packing the wound every day. In July, the Infectious Disease doc wanted me to try daily IV antibiotics for a temporary period. Started on my b'day (thank you very much!) and after 2 weeks, she said she thought it was helping the wound. Continued another 2 weeks, then another 2 weeks until the wound care doc said he thought the size of the wound was slightly larger. She agreed and we stopped after 7 weeks of daily IV crud. Both doctors felt surgery intervention was needed.
Talked to my oncologist in September and he recommended a wonderful Plastic Surgeon. Amazingly, he performed surgery in October to completely close the wound (and it had grown quite large) and kept me in the hospital a few days on IV antibiotics. I left the hospital with a JP (drain) and he had me keep it for about 3 or 4 weeks I believe.
Fast forward to the last couple of weeks - the itching has returned again. No outwardly signs of course - just an irritating need to lightly scratch (or brush in my case since the area has very little tissue left and it's near the incision line where he closed the wound up).
So the question is - what in the world is causing this itch to come and go? Was it the radiation? Grovers in hiding? Frankly I didn't have any problems with itching at that site after I started the Accutane and all the way through radiation as well. It came back after about the second reconstructive surgery and still comes and goes. The last couple of days it has itched but today - nothing.
I don't know if anyone else has gone through something this weird and convoluted but I welcome any thoughts.
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