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What Side Effects Can I Expect from Radiation?


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My radiation oncologist has proposed doing a 5x a week for 6 weeks radiation on 3 lymph nodes (hilar) in my chest. (The nodes are the only things that appear to be cancer in my body.) I am thrilled that he will do this, as he is stepping outside of the convetional treatment box for stage IV, and actually offering an agressive treatment option.

I see that many of you have had radiation, and would like to hear from those who have had it to the chest what I can expect (he told me it will be difficult to swallow the last 2 weeks), and any tips to get through it.

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Hi stephf1958,

I also had the Radiation 5x a week for 6 weeks. It was hard for me because it hit me directly over my esophagus. I could hardly swallow my own salivia after about 3 weeks. I had chicken noodle soup for 2 months straight. It was hard but I got through it. I don't think my esophagus will ever be the same. I don't want to scare you. Most here can eat some things that are soft and more room temp. I could never have anything cold but alot of people live on milkshakes during this time period. I wish you luck and if you ahve any questions please feel free to ask. Just keep fighting!!!!!!

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I also had rad treatment to the hilar area. My esophagus took a beating at the end of treatment, and I needed an appetite stimulant and a liquid painkiller to be able to eat. A year and a half later everything is back to normal except that I can't drink carbonated beverages. Feels like a pinball game going on in my esophagus when I do. Oh well, water's better anyway.

Good luck treatment. I'll send prayers for good results.


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I had the same treatments but to a larger area of my chest wall. I had trouble swallowing after the third or fourth week. Got a solution they call magic mouthwash and it helped me eat a little more than I would have without it. I had more trouble with the burn from the radiation.

Hope this helps.


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I had the 5X week for 6 weeks too.

My doc from day one warned me that I would have problems after about 3 weeks into the radiation. Every week I would go and smile at the doc and report NO problem!

No swallowing problems

No radiation burns to the skin (I burn in the sun after about 10 minutes :roll:

No problems eating

Energy was low, but I can contribute that to the lung removal and chemo too

I did get the magic mouthwash and had it in the refrigerator ready for any problems.

I have my fingers crossed that you will be as lucky as I was!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Steph,

I too had rad. 5x week for 6 weeks. It was harder than I thought, but looking back, I think chemo was worse for me. It was hard to swallow toward the end of treatment and a couple of weeks afterward. I was able to do milkshakes, but room temperature was the best. I couldn't swallow anything hot. I did have trouble with heartburn, so I had a week of trouble swallowing saliva. I took Prevacid before bedtime, which helped. Also, they told me to not eat late at night and to sleep propped up. I had a mixture to drink before meals to numb the area, and some pain stuff too. My appetite went down, so I lost some weight... which I actually was happy about.

As Heather said: "I don't want to scare you". But I do wish I had found this forum before I had treatment, because like you, I wanted to know as much as I can.

Great to hear others that had no problems with swallowing.

Good Luck, please write with any questions,

keep us posted,


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I can see that the side effects run the gammet. Just got "mapped" yesterday, recieving my tatoos (which look like blackheads). Start treatments next Tuesday. Hope I do as well as some of you, but I gained 10 lbs with chemo, so I wouldn't mind loosing a few pounds :)

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I did well with my radiation and chemo, and I hope you go through yours with flying colors too.

Don't worry about the 10 pounds, you need the extra to fight this bugger. :roll::wink: You'll have lots of time to take off the extra lbs when all this is over. Hang in there and good luck to you. Keep us posted.

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Hi steph,

I sipped iced green tea in the mornings before radiation and followed up with vanilla milkshake right after treatment. I think it helped keep my throat in good condition.

I used radiacare gel for the sun burn.

Chemo and radiation was like climbing up a hill that got steeper and steeper. I was really drained the last few days.

I think long term, it is possible radiation to mediastinals can cause some heart problems later on...

I am happy your doctors are being aggressive and everything is looking A-ok for you treatments. Now let them blast those little buggers.


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My dad had chest rad, and yes, he did have a hard time swallowing. He LIVED on watermelon...enough sustanance to provide vitamin, yet fluid enough that he didn't have to drink constantly...which hurt.

He did not try magic mouthwash, but there are some here who swear by it. That was enough for them to get through it.

As I always say...just keep your eye on the prize...no pain, no gain. Stay strong and know we are thinking of you here!



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