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Radiation - What to Expect?


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Have been to see the radiation onc - not such good news. A total of 30 treatments. Other bad news!! Clinically and pathologically I was staged at 1A. Now she tells me that because of the location (mediastinum) that I may be upstaged to a III :oops: (although the tumor its self was removed and only 1.9 x 2.4). But she is not completely sure but will take it in front of their board and give me an answer on my return appointment.

I have an appointment to be mapped on 01/27/04. And I suppose that rad will start shortly after that.

My question - what kind of side effects can I expect realistically? Any suggestions or things that anyone has done to help ease them?

And one other thing - has anyone out there had the same circumstances related to the upstaging?

Any input would be greatly appreciated. God Speed to All.

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I had 30 treatments to my chest for sclc and the side effects I had were pretty basic. Fatigue, "sunburn" to my back which took WEEKS to clear up, esophogitis (sp) which made it difficult to eat (depends on where they are treating you if this is a concern). All in all I would do it again as it truly wasn't that bad (except for the not eating part). I was able to drive myself to treatment (130 miles round trip) and continued working during the entire time. Everyone is different but if you drink LOTS of water it helps.

Prayers for an easy time headed your way.

God Bless,


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My husband had 28 radiation treatments. Side effects were primarily fatigue and a metallic taste in his mouth.

I ABSOLUTELY recommend that you get an RX for Carafat. We kept a bottle at the hospital and one at home. At the hospital he took it mixed in juice right before and right after each treatment. He took it at home on the weekends, once in the am and once in the pm.

I believe that this kept him from getting any esophagial problems. Just my opinion, but the Carafat can't hurt.


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My staging was EXACTLY as you described it. I had the tumor removed and heard talking in the hall outside my room (GOOD drugs, couldn't put anything together for a while). Prior to surgery, cancer was staged as I, possible II..

SO, imagine my shock/surprise when I visited my oncologist a week after getting out of the hospital to be told that my cancer was actually IIIa! (Well, yeah, you can imagine it, you've lived it, too...) Due to lymph node involvement, my "little critter" went from "Oh man" to "Oh shi_!" in an afternoon.

Staging works on TNM - T is tumor size, N is for node involvement and M is for metastization. Mine was T2N2M0... Two lymph nodes closest to the tumor were positive for cancer - were it only these two that were positive, I would have been staged at II and the "N" would have been "N1". BUT, there was one more lymph node in the positive class - half of the mediastinium pair... OUCH!

Radiation - 10% of people receiving radiation get that metallic taste - I did. One hint I can give you is to suck on sour candy to keep the spit moving - I had tangerine sour Altoids for that! First couple of weeks isn't bad, my pain was in stretching my abdomen after a pretty painful surgery and still healing...

When the radiation starts to cause "damage" to the esophagus, swallowing is extremely hard, even the spit your body naturally uses for digestion... When the irritation began, I spent a week downing George's aloe vera (yep, you drink it!)...when it got worse, it was a shot of aloe and then the carafat (first to soothe, then to coat). If you get irritation on your skin due to the radiation, use an aloe cream (I used George's again) that does not contain dyes, perfumes, etc. to ease the burn....

I found it easier to chew and swallow little bits of cookies (Double Stuf Oreos) than it was to swallow the milk chaser...liquids just really hurt to get down - I think because the throat contracts more.

These painful side effects do not go away as soon as you stop the radiation, they continue for a while and just kinda ease up gradually - one day, you'll just notice they're gone.

Good luck in your journey, check into anti-anxiety medication and a sleeping pill for the nights the doubts start to assail you and the statistics do that negative dance in your head.... Better living through chemistry!


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