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Topic: How long does it take for swelling to go down after radiation?

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During, and After —

What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Sep 3, 2019 11:23AM

DorothyB wrote:

My breast got swollen a week or so after lumpectomy and then went down some. Surgeon said seronoma? It went down some w/ compression and was close to the size of the other breast when I started radiation. There was / is a hardish lump between where the tumor was (12:00) and the side of the breast. During radiation, my breast got really swollen - so much that with a regular bra and top, I could look down and tell that it was bigger and other people, when asked, could see the difference. I thought that radiation would shrink that breast once everything settled down. I finished radiation July 23rd so am 7 or 8 weeks out. My breast is still larger than the other one, but not as obviously.

How long does it take for swelling to be gone?

Is it normal for radiated breast to end up smaller (but perkier) than the other one?

Thanks!

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Sep 3, 2019 11:37AM pupmom wrote:

I never had any swelling. You should contact your doctor about this. The issue might be lymphedema.

Life is what happens while we're making other plans. Dx 10/18/2011, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 3, 2019 11:42AM Bounce wrote:

My swelling after radiation was quite pronounced and I asked for a referral to a lymphedema physiotherapist. I was not looking forward to it so I was surprised by how easy it was and how much it helped. (I did not have any lymphedema in my arm at all.) After a few sessions I felt a lot better and stopped.

I highly recommend it. I felt a lot better and started healing emotionally as well after my swelling went down.

As my radiated breast was slightly bigger to start with I also expected it to become a little smaller but it did not.

Dx 8/5/2013, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/1/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/4/2013 Breast Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2014 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Sep 3, 2019 11:58AM DorothyB wrote:

Thanks - rad onc didn't seem concerned about swelling at all and didn't seem to think it was lymphedema. Will make another appt later this month.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Sep 3, 2019 01:31PM FindingOptimism wrote:

My breast swelled up just as I finished radiation and started tamoxifen. I second the recommendation to the see a lymphedema specialist. At a minimum you can learn the techniques to do self massage which seems to help. I still have episodes of swelling 9 months later but it definitely continues improving. In my case, my therapist suggested that the radiation can cause the scar tissue to become fibrotic and trap lymphatic fluid.

Dx 8/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Hormonal Therapy 12/12/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast
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Sep 24, 2019 10:11PM DorothyB wrote:

Went back to my surgeon today. He drained almost 200 cc of fluid out of the breast. He filled a 20 cc syringe and two 60 cc syringes. He thought he was almost done, so didn't attach another syringe to the needle. The PA said she thought the total might have been 200 cc. He did comment that there was a LOT of fluid - more than he has seen before.

My breast size is much more normal now :) Hoping / Praying that it doesn't fill up again. He said that waiting to come in should make it less likely to re-fill.

I was very surprised that I really couldn't feel much - definitely no pain. He didn't do anything to numb it, but the nerves were still not functioning from the surgery and radiation.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Sep 25, 2019 05:58PM SUPer52 wrote:

Hi Dorothy, I am in a very similar situation. I have a seroma and I have also developed some swelling in the breast only that isn't going down even though I finished radiation in May.

When you say your surgeon drained fluid, do you mean he drained the seroma specifically? Or did he actually drain fluid from the breast area in general? After he drained it, did you notice any "caving in" at the sight where you had the lumpectomy?

I have been debating on whether to have my seroma drained. My surgeon felt draining it could cause me to have a large divot from the lumpectomy, but I feel as though draining it will allow all of the fluid building up in my breast to finally drain. I did see a lymphedema specialist who taught me some self-massage techniques, but that actually seemed to make it worse. Maybe finally getting the seroma drained will help. My swelling is just enough that it is noticeable when I wear certain tops, and the skin underneath my breast is starting to thicken from the fluid that is collecting there. Thank you for sharing your experience!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor, and some style." -Maya Angelou Dx 1/15/2019, DCIS/IDC, Right, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 1/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 2/25/2019 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 4/7/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Sep 25, 2019 06:12PM DorothyB wrote:

The needle hole appears to be where the seroma was. The hard place where the seroma was is gone and the firm swollen area is also gone. My tumor was at 12:00 so nicely centered. The seroma was between 1:00 and 1:30.

I am 61 so my breasts were saggy pre-cancer diagnosis. I was told that the radiated breast would be the same size or slightly smaller, but perkier - which, to my mind, meant they would look the same w/ a bra on.

The radiated previously swollen breast is now as saggy as the other one :) and with my bra on, they look the same. I didn't look closely or poke a lot when I showered today but didn't notice anything that alarmed me.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Sep 25, 2019 06:27PM - edited Sep 25, 2019 06:28PM by SUPer52

Thank you so much for your reply! You have given me good information! My swollen one is perkier too, almost like I had a lift. I keep joking that if my other one looked as round and full as my "bad" one, I'd be happy lol! I think I am going to bite the bullet and have it drained....

Thank you again for your response!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor, and some style." -Maya Angelou Dx 1/15/2019, DCIS/IDC, Right, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 1/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 2/25/2019 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 4/7/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Oct 3, 2019 02:52PM DorothyB wrote:

It is filling back up again :( The really small size lasted about a week. Surgeon said to wait a month before coming back if it needed draining again. It is still much smaller than before being drained, but is now getting bigger than the other one again.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Oct 3, 2019 04:03PM SUPer52 wrote:

Thanks for the update, DorothyB! Sorry that you are starting to swell up again. I still haven't called to make an appointment to have mine drained. Part of the reason I have been putting it off is that my surgeon is almost two hours away, so trying to find a day when I can miss work and not create more work for myself in doing so is difficult. The other reason is that I am still nervous that having it drained will have an even less cosmetically appealing result if I do end up with a big divot at the lumpectomy site, especially if my breast starts to shrink from radiation. Ultimately, however, I know that I am eventually going to end up asking him to drain it, so I need to stop procrastinating and just make the call.

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor, and some style." -Maya Angelou Dx 1/15/2019, DCIS/IDC, Right, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 1/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 2/25/2019 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 4/7/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Oct 21, 2019 09:33PM - edited Oct 21, 2019 09:33PM by margo53

hi,

I'm just reading all these posts about RADS/ seromas, etc.

I had lumpectomy a month ago and have had a terrible time with drainage and a seroma and cellulitis. It's finally starting to get better.

I know it is delaying my starting radiation. Has anyone had a seroma very early on and had to delay treatment? If so, for how long? Did you have more issues during radiation related to sermons, swelling etc

Margo Dx 8/13/2019, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 9/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Chemotherapy 12/2/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy Breast
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Oct 22, 2019 02:34PM DorothyB wrote:

SUPer, I finished radiation already so do not worry about shrinkage from radiation.

I went back to surgeon today and he drained out 260 cc (over a cup). He said that he didn't think it would fill up again, but didn't tell me why.

After he left the room, I started to get dressed and saw what my breast looks like now - HUGE divot where the tumor was removed.

This time he inserted the needle at the lumpectomy site. The other time he inserted the needle over an inch from the scar. I suspect that he left fluid in the tumor site the first time, but this time took all of the fluid out.

I got dressed and then asked nurse or PA? She said that it would probably fill in.

I haven't looked at it again. It really grossed me out (feel bad saying this when some have had mastectomies). I haven't looked at it since. I think I will need to see it several times before it won't gross me out. The divot is big enough that I am not even sure I am OK touching it. (of course, I'm also one who couldn't touch my hip replacement scars for years)

On the other hand, honestly, it looks more "the same as the other" in my bra & t-shirt now than it did when it was so swollen. Also the swollen breast was uncomfortable. If I had to pick now with huge divot but no swelling or earlier this morning with huge swelling, I would take the non-swollen more comfortable breast w/ divot every time.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Oct 22, 2019 06:17PM SUPer52 wrote:

Dorothy, Thank you so much for your follow up post! I have heard that the divot can fill in a little bit over time. In just the past few days, it seems like my general overall swelling has started to dissipate slightly, so I think I'm going to give it a little more time and see what happens. The seroma is still there and feels just as large, but with some of the breast swelling going down, it doesn't seem to protrude so much or bother me as much.

Thank you again for all of the information you shared. You have really helped me out. Your comment about choosing the non-swollen breast with the divot over the swollen breast without the divot is especially helpful. Thank you!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor, and some style." -Maya Angelou Dx 1/15/2019, DCIS/IDC, Right, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 1/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 2/25/2019 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 4/7/2019 Whole-breast: Breast, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Oct 23, 2019 10:35PM DorothyB wrote:

So, this morning just looking down, my breast looked more normal, but when I touched it, the divot was still very much there and weird feeling. Still hoping it doesn't fill again. MD Anderson seems willing to send me to a PT for it if needed, so will do that if it starts filling again.

Diag. 4/19/2019 ER+ PR+ HER2 neg Lumpectomy 5/29/2019 IDC w/ DICS 2.0 cm Grade 3
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Oct 28, 2019 05:48PM mitziandbubba wrote:

I wanted to mention that I had a divot - I had a benign lump removed in my non cancerous breast. It filled in after a few months - not swelling, just sort of shifted around so that it looks normal again. It was a pretty big divot for a few months.

Surgery 5/9/2019 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 5/29/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast

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