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vickiekersch
@vickiekersch

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 08, 2017

Heart and lung conditions post breast cancer radiation

Posted by @vickiekersch, Dec 29, 2018

My cardiologist implanted a loop monitor a few weeks ago after I had a TIA last December possibly caused by Tamoxifen and an undetected clotting disorder – Factor 2. Now, a echocardiogram shows moderate tricuspid regurgitatation, which the cardiologist said is related to pulmonary fibrosis from damage to my lung from radiation. I saw my oncologist the other day and he said no way is that possible. Does anyone have any experience with this? I’ve never had heart damage or a heart condition that I’m aware of previous to cancer. Reading up on the condition of course scares me for the future and long term, but the damage is done after 33 doses of radiation 4 years ago.

REPLY

Hi @vickiekersch, it is known that some treatments (drugs and/or radiation) can cause heart or lung problems. The important thing is that you and your medical team are monitoring the issues that you have. It's a good thing that the blood clotting issue was discovered, for example. Do you also see a pulmonologist for the lung issues? Hopefully your oncologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist will work together to help you manage your health.

I'd like to invite @bowhunt1969 @jweisser @elvandi and @suki Into this discussion to see if they have any experiences to offer regarding heart or lung issues developing after breast cancer treatments.

Vickie, I know reading about these conditions is scary. Luckily there are some articles that offer tips of what you can do. I found a couple to get you started.
– Heart and breast cancer from Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/treatments-for-breast-cancer-may-harm-the-heart
– How breast cancer treatment can affect the lungs from MacMillan https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/breast-cancer/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/late-effects-of-breast-cancer-treatment/effects-on-the-lungs.html

The articles suggest that the best things you can do include:
– surveillance: continue to monitor the conditions
– exercise
– no smoking
– maintain a healthy body weight
– practice deep breathing exercises

How's your physical activity level? Have you ever done deep breathing exercises before? It does take practice. In my former life I was a French horn player, so breathing deeply comes naturally to me. So, I was surprised when my mom recently experienced a mild panic attack and she didn't know how to control her breathing. I've been working with her on it. I know of some resources that I can suggest if you'd like them. Let me know.

Liked by vickiekersch

@colleenyoung

Hi @vickiekersch, it is known that some treatments (drugs and/or radiation) can cause heart or lung problems. The important thing is that you and your medical team are monitoring the issues that you have. It's a good thing that the blood clotting issue was discovered, for example. Do you also see a pulmonologist for the lung issues? Hopefully your oncologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist will work together to help you manage your health.

I'd like to invite @bowhunt1969 @jweisser @elvandi and @suki Into this discussion to see if they have any experiences to offer regarding heart or lung issues developing after breast cancer treatments.

Vickie, I know reading about these conditions is scary. Luckily there are some articles that offer tips of what you can do. I found a couple to get you started.
– Heart and breast cancer from Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/treatments-for-breast-cancer-may-harm-the-heart
– How breast cancer treatment can affect the lungs from MacMillan https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/breast-cancer/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/late-effects-of-breast-cancer-treatment/effects-on-the-lungs.html

The articles suggest that the best things you can do include:
– surveillance: continue to monitor the conditions
– exercise
– no smoking
– maintain a healthy body weight
– practice deep breathing exercises

How's your physical activity level? Have you ever done deep breathing exercises before? It does take practice. In my former life I was a French horn player, so breathing deeply comes naturally to me. So, I was surprised when my mom recently experienced a mild panic attack and she didn't know how to control her breathing. I've been working with her on it. I know of some resources that I can suggest if you'd like them. Let me know.

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Thank you for your response and information. I don’t have a pulmonologist following me yet, but thinking I need to get one. I definitely will read these articles you shared. I actually lead a very healthy lifestyle and follow a mostly semi-vegetarian/Mediterranean diet, but have difficulties with swallowing due to a 50% functioning esophagus from a spinal cord injury and no gallbladder so I don’t break down fats and carbs. Diet is probably the most difficult for me and the dieticians in the integrative oncology department worked with me for quite a long time. I can’t seem to keep on weight, I’m 105 with a BMI of 17-18, so they’re always worried about my weight. I’m on a few meds that suppress hunger so I’m supposed to “remember” to eat. I walk a lot, about 1 hour each night with my dog and on weekends, 2-3 hours per day. I used to hike local mountains and trails (live in AZ), but as my spinal cord injury and my lung and breathing got worse, I’ve had to bring that down a notch. I do practice deep breathing exercises, I work in behavioral mental health and teach it to many of my own clients (children in state custody) as part of a meditation practice. I’m also back in acupuncture. I just feel the breathing is getting worse and now finding the heart condition 4 years out of treatment scares me. I don’t know if it was an underlying hidden defect never identified when I was younger or if radiation treatment caused it. The cardiologist is pretty sure radiation caused it. My cardiologist is not with Mayo Clinic but I think I want to get a second opinion with a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and pulmonologist.

@vickiekersch

Thank you for your response and information. I don’t have a pulmonologist following me yet, but thinking I need to get one. I definitely will read these articles you shared. I actually lead a very healthy lifestyle and follow a mostly semi-vegetarian/Mediterranean diet, but have difficulties with swallowing due to a 50% functioning esophagus from a spinal cord injury and no gallbladder so I don’t break down fats and carbs. Diet is probably the most difficult for me and the dieticians in the integrative oncology department worked with me for quite a long time. I can’t seem to keep on weight, I’m 105 with a BMI of 17-18, so they’re always worried about my weight. I’m on a few meds that suppress hunger so I’m supposed to “remember” to eat. I walk a lot, about 1 hour each night with my dog and on weekends, 2-3 hours per day. I used to hike local mountains and trails (live in AZ), but as my spinal cord injury and my lung and breathing got worse, I’ve had to bring that down a notch. I do practice deep breathing exercises, I work in behavioral mental health and teach it to many of my own clients (children in state custody) as part of a meditation practice. I’m also back in acupuncture. I just feel the breathing is getting worse and now finding the heart condition 4 years out of treatment scares me. I don’t know if it was an underlying hidden defect never identified when I was younger or if radiation treatment caused it. The cardiologist is pretty sure radiation caused it. My cardiologist is not with Mayo Clinic but I think I want to get a second opinion with a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and pulmonologist.

Jump to this post

Oh and I have never smoked and am bothered by other’s smoke, although I am exposed to passive smoke due to my position in community behavioral mental health and going into homes where others may smoke around me. I have to go home, change and shower after being exposed to second hand smoke.

@vickiekersch

Thank you for your response and information. I don’t have a pulmonologist following me yet, but thinking I need to get one. I definitely will read these articles you shared. I actually lead a very healthy lifestyle and follow a mostly semi-vegetarian/Mediterranean diet, but have difficulties with swallowing due to a 50% functioning esophagus from a spinal cord injury and no gallbladder so I don’t break down fats and carbs. Diet is probably the most difficult for me and the dieticians in the integrative oncology department worked with me for quite a long time. I can’t seem to keep on weight, I’m 105 with a BMI of 17-18, so they’re always worried about my weight. I’m on a few meds that suppress hunger so I’m supposed to “remember” to eat. I walk a lot, about 1 hour each night with my dog and on weekends, 2-3 hours per day. I used to hike local mountains and trails (live in AZ), but as my spinal cord injury and my lung and breathing got worse, I’ve had to bring that down a notch. I do practice deep breathing exercises, I work in behavioral mental health and teach it to many of my own clients (children in state custody) as part of a meditation practice. I’m also back in acupuncture. I just feel the breathing is getting worse and now finding the heart condition 4 years out of treatment scares me. I don’t know if it was an underlying hidden defect never identified when I was younger or if radiation treatment caused it. The cardiologist is pretty sure radiation caused it. My cardiologist is not with Mayo Clinic but I think I want to get a second opinion with a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and pulmonologist.

Jump to this post

Hi @vickiekersch,

It’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion – taking care of your health needs means seeking as much information as possible so you can decide what is best for you. If you would like to make an appointment at Mayo Clinic, please call one of our appointment offices. You can also request an appointment online. The contact information for Minnesota, Arizona and Florida can be found here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/appointments

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