Radiation Therapy Dilemma

I’m done with my regular chemo, thank God, so it will be radiation therapy as recommended by my Oncologist.  Yesterday, went to consult with a radiation oncologist and I’m almost happy about what he said:  Usually the patients who undergo radiation have a minimum of 5 cm tumor  or with 3 lymph nodes positive for cancer removed.  Mine’s 3.7 cm and 1 lymph and 1 Rotter’s nodes.  He is not sure that I will benefit from radiation.  However,  some cancer cells might have attached or spilled into the nerves which the chemo might or might not have zapped.  So, I have 1 1/2 weeks to think about it on whether I will go on. I have some risks to consider, too: There is a risk to the heart because I’ve had left breast mastectomy and what I’ve read from the internet – a small chance of developing sarcomas.  And of course the inconvenience of commuting daily to have the radiation done for 33 days,  the discomfort of lying still ,  naked or almost naked for the procedure and the cost of the procedure.

Maybe I’ll get a second opinion or maybe I’ll ask my Oncologist about this.  It’s a sort of damn if you do and damn if you don’t.  Why couldn’t he just tell me outright that I don’t need the radiation anymore?

5 thoughts on “Radiation Therapy Dilemma

  1. It is a medical legal thing. If he says you don’t need radiation & you have a local reccurrence, you can sue him for bad advice. as a practicing oncology Doctor of Pharmacy, I say go with the radiation. The evidence is pretty compelling. In a nutshell, chemotherapy works best on metastatic lesions. It is frequently given for localized cancer with positive lymph node(s) if there is a chance of recurrence because it only takes once cancer cell to slip out through the the lymphatic system & take up residence for one to end up with metastatic cancer down the road. Radiation is used to prevent localized recurrence & in women who do not have overt metastatic disease has a greater impact on long term survival than chemotherapy does. All of that said, In the end, you are the only one who can make the decision. It is a game of chance and the prize on the table is your life, and quality of that life. It is scarier to have left sided breast cancer & the potential for heart damage from the radiation. Only you can decide which risk YOU are willing to take.

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    1. Thanks for that helpful advice! It’s one of the reasons why I blog about my illness. I can get good advice for free 🙂 I went to the radiation oncologist recommended by my attending oncologist to seek a second opinion. No hesitation on her part, and she had me scheduled for Planning tomorrow. Did my research on internet that with tumor removed at least 5 cm or with at least one lymph node, one goes ahead with radiation. So I go, even as I’m anxious and fearful of the procedure.

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  2. How did everything go? I have been thinking about you. I am so impressed by your bravery and I honestly don’t know how I would handle all you have been through. I hope you are well. Please me know how you are!

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    1. When the trial comes, I was able to endure what I used to think I couldn’t. Anybody will do the same. I’ve undergone radiation planning where I laid under the CT Simulator and the technicians mark the places where they will zap me. Part 2 of Planning will be next week. I’m getting a stiff neck with this procedure because I have to look to the right without moving for an hour or more. Thanks for the concern.

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