Breast Radiation--Positions, Advantages/Disadvantages - Care To Share?

Posted by Dee @danielad, Feb 14 10:16am

Hello all and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! I read somewhere that this holiday is not meant ONLY for lovers, but also for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends … I will add — "YOURSELF". Love yourself, the person that you were, the person that you are, the person you will become … OK, this is all for my philosophizing, for today. 😉

Going to my subject of "Breast Radiation — Positions, Advantages/Disadvantages" — I would like to know from anyone who wishes to share, and has or will have radiation treatments, the "position" you were/will be in and its advantages/disadvantages, issues, etc. For instance, I am at my 3rd radiation treatment and am "face down". Can you share yours and maybe provide additional information? I will share my experience as well, particularly after I meet my Radiation Oncologist on Tue 18 Feb.

Be Well and Love Yourself!

–Dee

I just finished 25 proton radiation treatments in my breast and armpit. I laid on my back with my arms over my head. It was hard to lay still as my shoulder hurt in that position. I took Advil an hour before each treatment. I eventually got used to it and music they played helped keep my mind off the discomfort.

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I had 33 treatments face down. It is to protect your heart etc from radiation. I did develop a stricture in my esophagus about 6 months later and was hard to swallow food. Not sure if this was from the radiation but guessing so. Had it stretched and omeprazole helped. Good luck and use your ointment post treatments.

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@marannolson

I had 33 treatments face down. It is to protect your heart etc from radiation. I did develop a stricture in my esophagus about 6 months later and was hard to swallow food. Not sure if this was from the radiation but guessing so. Had it stretched and omeprazole helped. Good luck and use your ointment post treatments.

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@marannolson – Thanks for the information! So sorry you experienced a stricture in your esophagus. How do you feel now?

My plan is for 20 treatments and I re-confirmed it with the Radiation Oncologist on Tue. He said that the face down position will, as you mentioned, protect the heart and lungs. He also mentioned that there is very minimal exposure affecting any other part of my body. I hope that is so! I am using the "CeraVe Lotion", numerous times per day. It does not seem to really stay on the skin; not dense enough. Maybe I should buy the cream, which should be thicker. Any thoughts on that? Thanks again

–Dee

Liked by trixie1313

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@danielad, @marannolson
I use the CeraVe cream that is in the tub and it works wonders! I use it in the morning and evening. For radiation though, the calendula cream worked well and when the burns got worse, the doctor prescribed me Silvadene burn dressing which did the trick on those nasty burns.

Liked by Dee

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@danielad

@marannolson – Thanks for the information! So sorry you experienced a stricture in your esophagus. How do you feel now?

My plan is for 20 treatments and I re-confirmed it with the Radiation Oncologist on Tue. He said that the face down position will, as you mentioned, protect the heart and lungs. He also mentioned that there is very minimal exposure affecting any other part of my body. I hope that is so! I am using the "CeraVe Lotion", numerous times per day. It does not seem to really stay on the skin; not dense enough. Maybe I should buy the cream, which should be thicker. Any thoughts on that? Thanks again

–Dee

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Interesting about facedown treatment. That is how they did my MRIs but was not an option for my radiation treatments. Did you have a lumpectomy? Think I had face up treatments because my lymph nodes were involved so I had radiation on my entire chest wall and armpit area after a double mastectomy (no reconstruction) and lymph node dissection.

Are you doing traditional radiation? I was lucky to be approved for newer proton radiation treatment, which is safer for the heart and lungs. Got approval because treatment on my left side by my heart and my husband works for Mayo so our insurance is through third party affiliate of theirs.

I used Mepitel film covering purchased at the Mayo Clinic store to minimize burn damage to my skin. Even with the Mepitel, the week following my last treatment my skin is now red, sore, and itchy. Radiation nurse told me to use a water and vinegar soak on my armpit, then use Aquaphor on the entire burned area. This works very well. I also use Vanicream (thick lotion) and hydrocortisone anti-itch cream.

Liked by Dee, trixie1313

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@trixie1313

@danielad, @marannolson
I use the CeraVe cream that is in the tub and it works wonders! I use it in the morning and evening. For radiation though, the calendula cream worked well and when the burns got worse, the doctor prescribed me Silvadene burn dressing which did the trick on those nasty burns.

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@trixie1313 – Thanks! By chance, do you have a "brand name" for the Calendula cream? I do have Silvadene cream. I use it on the other breast for a problem with the healing following the reconstruction surgeries (3-mos ago), but with little results.
–Dee

Liked by trixie1313

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@danielad

@trixie1313 – Thanks! By chance, do you have a "brand name" for the Calendula cream? I do have Silvadene cream. I use it on the other breast for a problem with the healing following the reconstruction surgeries (3-mos ago), but with little results.
–Dee

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@danielad
Yes, I do – the radiation doctor had Calendula cream by Boiron–First Aid. I went through a lot of that and found it at Walmart and also Vitamin Shoppe. I found the CeraVe cream (in a round pot) was least expensive at Walmart and since then, I am seeing it at Costco. The aloe vera I got was 100% gel by Fruit of the Earth, but as long as its all gel and no fragrance, and pure 100% gel, you're good. Hoping things get better for you!

Liked by Dee

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@melissa1979

Interesting about facedown treatment. That is how they did my MRIs but was not an option for my radiation treatments. Did you have a lumpectomy? Think I had face up treatments because my lymph nodes were involved so I had radiation on my entire chest wall and armpit area after a double mastectomy (no reconstruction) and lymph node dissection.

Are you doing traditional radiation? I was lucky to be approved for newer proton radiation treatment, which is safer for the heart and lungs. Got approval because treatment on my left side by my heart and my husband works for Mayo so our insurance is through third party affiliate of theirs.

I used Mepitel film covering purchased at the Mayo Clinic store to minimize burn damage to my skin. Even with the Mepitel, the week following my last treatment my skin is now red, sore, and itchy. Radiation nurse told me to use a water and vinegar soak on my armpit, then use Aquaphor on the entire burned area. This works very well. I also use Vanicream (thick lotion) and hydrocortisone anti-itch cream.

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@melissa1979 — Thanks for your information.
I believe all Breast MRIs are done face down, and so are the biopsies following the findings via MRI. However, as I understand it, Radiation treatments' "position" depends on a number of elements including the type and size of the cancer; involvement of nodes; type of surgery; etc..

In my case, I had a lumpectomy for a multi-focal cancer, with no nodes involvement, and reconstruction. I also told my Radiation Oncologist that I wouldn't consider radiation because of the potential damage of radiation to healthy tissue, particularly the heart and lungs. So I am "face down" (traditional radiation) on a 20-treatment plan. I sure hope the position does help!!

–Dee

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@trixie1313

@danielad
Yes, I do – the radiation doctor had Calendula cream by Boiron–First Aid. I went through a lot of that and found it at Walmart and also Vitamin Shoppe. I found the CeraVe cream (in a round pot) was least expensive at Walmart and since then, I am seeing it at Costco. The aloe vera I got was 100% gel by Fruit of the Earth, but as long as its all gel and no fragrance, and pure 100% gel, you're good. Hoping things get better for you!

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@trixie1313 — Thanks for the information! I will go tomorrow to buy them!!! Dee

Liked by trixie1313

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@danielad

@trixie1313 — Thanks for the information! I will go tomorrow to buy them!!! Dee

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@danielad Hoping you get relief soon.

Liked by Dee

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@danielad

@melissa1979 — Thanks for your information.
I believe all Breast MRIs are done face down, and so are the biopsies following the findings via MRI. However, as I understand it, Radiation treatments' "position" depends on a number of elements including the type and size of the cancer; involvement of nodes; type of surgery; etc..

In my case, I had a lumpectomy for a multi-focal cancer, with no nodes involvement, and reconstruction. I also told my Radiation Oncologist that I wouldn't consider radiation because of the potential damage of radiation to healthy tissue, particularly the heart and lungs. So I am "face down" (traditional radiation) on a 20-treatment plan. I sure hope the position does help!!

–Dee

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My 15 radiation treatments were done with me on my back and arms above my head. I was getting specifically target to the tumor site which was at the 5:00 position on my left breast.

Liked by Dee

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@baker1

My 15 radiation treatments were done with me on my back and arms above my head. I was getting specifically target to the tumor site which was at the 5:00 position on my left breast.

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Hello @baker1 — I am at the 10th radiation treatment of 20. Still face down. I have had issues with the breathing (no opening in the "face holder"). Unbelievable! I refused to do any other treatments without oxygen. Now I have oxygen during the treatment and I feel a lot better. You would think it should part of their Standard Operating Procedures! Nope, I was the first patient in that position … Oh well!

I don't think it is a position-related situation, but I have developed nausea and weakness. This since my 6th treatment. Did you? Has anyone else? I read that nausea in breast radiation treatments is "very, very rare" … So what the heck? I see my radiation oncologist this evening, so I will ask him as well.

Thanks to all for your replies and comments!

–Dee

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Oh … By the way, I had a CT of the lungs yesterday; a 3-month follow up for a nodule. All is well — The nodule is stable. Feeling less stressed!!!! 🙂

–Dee

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@danielad

Hello @baker1 — I am at the 10th radiation treatment of 20. Still face down. I have had issues with the breathing (no opening in the "face holder"). Unbelievable! I refused to do any other treatments without oxygen. Now I have oxygen during the treatment and I feel a lot better. You would think it should part of their Standard Operating Procedures! Nope, I was the first patient in that position … Oh well!

I don't think it is a position-related situation, but I have developed nausea and weakness. This since my 6th treatment. Did you? Has anyone else? I read that nausea in breast radiation treatments is "very, very rare" … So what the heck? I see my radiation oncologist this evening, so I will ask him as well.

Thanks to all for your replies and comments!

–Dee

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@danielad
Hi, Dee,

Firstly, I must commend you for taking control of your treatments by requesting oxygen. Too many of us see a problem, feel intimidated by the treatments and/or professionals, and then don't speak up. Good on you!

As to nausea, and from what I understand, some people do experience it and, when they do, it often is when the dose and/or area is increased. One thing which you might try to do is to eat several light (easy to digest, non-greasy) meals during the day, instead of a few, heavier meals.

Wishing you a productive discussion with your radiation oncologist!

Liked by Dee

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@danielad

Hello @baker1 — I am at the 10th radiation treatment of 20. Still face down. I have had issues with the breathing (no opening in the "face holder"). Unbelievable! I refused to do any other treatments without oxygen. Now I have oxygen during the treatment and I feel a lot better. You would think it should part of their Standard Operating Procedures! Nope, I was the first patient in that position … Oh well!

I don't think it is a position-related situation, but I have developed nausea and weakness. This since my 6th treatment. Did you? Has anyone else? I read that nausea in breast radiation treatments is "very, very rare" … So what the heck? I see my radiation oncologist this evening, so I will ask him as well.

Thanks to all for your replies and comments!

–Dee

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Dee@danielad, I did my 15 radiation treatments in December 2018 and early January 2019. I did have a day or two of very mild nausea. Last week my primary care doctor told me that a recent chest x-ray shows that I have some fluid in my lung and a tiny blip on the EKG. Both are probably from radiation to my left breast. I’m waiting on an appointment with a cardiologist. This all may be nothing or to could be more trouble. And to think that I had thought that I had gotten through breast cancer treatments Scott free! 🥴
Best of luck to you in your treatments.

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