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Protecting breast during radiation

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Category: TNBC Forums
Forum Name: Let's Talk About Radiation Therapy
Forum Description: A place to discuss Radiation Therapy
Printed Date: Jul 13 2020 at 10:42am
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Topic: Protecting breast during radiation
Posted By: Cindielou
Subject: Protecting breast during radiation
Date Posted: Feb 23 2016 at 8:44pm
I found out today that I am going to need 28 rounds of radiation. I've had 8 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy. The doctor talked a lot about my skin burning and that it could blister. I am so worried! Can anyone share their radiation experience and what I can do to best protect my skin. I'd really appreciate it!

Posted By: Tulips
Date Posted: Feb 24 2016 at 5:03am
Hi CindieLou,

Please don't panic!  I just finished 33 rounds of radiation 2 weeks ago (28 regular plus 5 boosts).  I am very pale, so I was worried about skin reactions.  I was FINE.  Not a big deal at all.  I got pinkish-red, but it didn't even hurt like a sunburn.  Zero blistering or peeling or raw skin or anything like that.  My doctor told me that skin burning/blistering COULD happen but happens in just a minority of patients, and they have really good treatments if it does happen (silvadene lotion or something like that).  I wish I spent less time worrying about it.  And now, 2 weeks later, I am just a little bit tanner on that side, that's it.  You would never think I went through radiation.  

I have 2 friends who also went through radiation in the past year. One ended up like me, no issues whatsoever.  The other did have a bad reaction, but it wasn't until around day 25.  And she said that while it hurt, it wasn't horrific or anything (it didn't prevent her from going about her life), and it cleared up so quickly once she was done. 

They also talk about fatigue as a side effect.  I felt fine during rads, but the day after my last day, I had one crazy day of fatigue and I had to go home around 2 and napped most of the day.  That was it.  Fine after that. 

Good luck!


Dx April 2015 IDC TN 2.2 cm, Grade 3, Chemo started May 2015: Taxol/Carbo then AC, Lx with SNB Nov 2015, 33 Rad Dec 2015-Feb 2016. 6 months Capecitabine starting March 2016

Posted By: Dporter
Date Posted: Feb 24 2016 at 11:14am
Thanks Tulips for sharing your experience. I should start my radiation in about 3 weeks. Your experience makes me feel just a bit better about it. Thanks,

Dx TNBC 7/15; age 52; stage 2, grade 3, BRCA negative; Taxol weekly x 12, DD AC x4 completed 1/19/16

Posted By: jackieanne
Date Posted: Mar 16 2016 at 8:00pm
I start soon, too!  I just got mapped on Monday.  I feel better after reading about your experience.  I've been a little stressed thinking about it

Posted By: Jacklin
Date Posted: Mar 16 2016 at 8:37pm
While I am not writing from experience, yet, my radiation oncologist told me the same, one MIGHT have burns, but that the key is communication. Let the doctor/staff know if I started to experience any burning sensations. She also reassured me that after chemo, radiation would be much easier to handle. Just to make sure that I listened to my body, take a rest when needed and to follow their instructions.

Much strength for each day,

Dx: Nov. 27/15, TNBC, left breast & lymph, BRCA -; Chemo: Dec 4/15 - Mar 4/16; 4 DD A/C, 3 DD Taxol; BMX/ALND: April 26/16; Stage 3C; Radiation: June 10-July 15/16; 1 cycle Xeloda: Aug 15 - 28/16

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: Mar 27 2016 at 6:37pm
Im wandering how long i should wait after surgery? I had bmx surgery only 8 days after ending chemo. I think thatay have been too soon. Im still feeling effects of chemo. My nails continue to change and i have numbness in legs and feet and hands that comes and goes. The surgeon said that was the taxol still working. How long does it keep working?
Or is it better to hit it with radiation while its still week from taxol?

Posted By: Jacklin
Date Posted: Mar 28 2016 at 9:06am
Hi Ginie,

My MO said to wait 4 - 6 weeks after chemo for surgery, it'll be almost 8 weeks when I have mine due to a backlog. My radiation is supposed to start 4 weeks after surgery, I'll be meeting with the radiation oncologist, RO,  3 weeks after surgery. Honestly, it's not worth questioning when you had your surgery, it's done now so leave it in the past, ok? 

You ask good questions, but I don't have any answers; can you ask your MO or RO?

Praying you have a great day today,

Dx: Nov. 27/15, TNBC, left breast & lymph, BRCA -; Chemo: Dec 4/15 - Mar 4/16; 4 DD A/C, 3 DD Taxol; BMX/ALND: April 26/16; Stage 3C; Radiation: June 10-July 15/16; 1 cycle Xeloda: Aug 15 - 28/16

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: Mar 28 2016 at 12:16pm
Thank you jacklin. I have appt. Today with RO so i will ask him when i should start. I just wandered what other people have done? How long did they wait to start radiation? I tried to find standard of are but nothing came up. In America there is recomended standard of care for treatment of specific illnes i found it for tnbc and chemo but i didnt find it for radiation.

Posted By: gordon15
Date Posted: Mar 28 2016 at 6:23pm
Rom- I think 4 weeks is about standard for radiation after chemo or after surgery, if no chemo after surgery.
My wife had to wait 8 weeks for surgery after neoadjuvant chemo (chemo before surgery)b/c one team member was on vacation. like Jacklin says, it's gone now, so better to focus on the future instead of what could have been" perfect "(according to statistics)

hope this helps

Posted By: gardengirl
Date Posted: May 12 2016 at 10:48am
Thank you for sharing your experience, i start radiation in July. Have been so nervous of the unknown. Hearing what you have been through, quieted some of my nerves.

Thank you fir sharing,

Lynch Syndrome -
23PanelDNA -
10/2015 DX TNBC IDC Stage 1 Grade 3 .8mm
11/2015 Surgery Par. Mas.. left side 1 cm
12/2016 A/C 4x
3/2016 Tax/Carbo 9x 33 rounds radiation
4/2018 reoc. sternum

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: May 12 2016 at 10:59am
Hi garrden girl im having my sixth treatment today. Started getting a slight sunburn three days ago. I cut a leaf from a loe vera plant put juice on and next day it was gone. They dont want me to use store bought gel and they are picky about lotion. But juice from the leaf is ok and it works.
Really after chemo and surgery this is easy. The only thing is i have to go every day and i live an hour away. Still cant drive because of chemo brain. I ride in with my husband cause he works there then a vollunteer or friend has to drive me home. Sometimes its hard to find a ride. I may try uber! Hahaha. Im so low tech i dont even know how to do that!😁😋 ha Its another adventure. Another small hiil to climb to get to the top of the tnbc mountain.
Just keep climbing one day at a time. Together we can do this

Posted By: BarbaraZ
Date Posted: Sep 14 2016 at 2:10pm
Hi Everyone -
I start radiation on September 27 - I will have 33 doses.  I am worried about skin burn.
Any suggestions?  I heard aloe vera is good - but where do you get an aloe vera plant (i live in a cold climate so not really accessible).
Thank you - 
Barbara Z

Posted By: snugltz
Date Posted: Sep 14 2016 at 3:05pm
Surely some nursery would carry aloe.  Maybe it can be ordered online.  The plant saved me and several others who I gave parts of the plant to for their treatments. 

1 cm, 0/2 neg nodes, lumpectomy 6/16/10, cytoxin/taxotere 4x every three weeks, rad start 11/8 33X

Posted By: gordon15
Date Posted: Sep 14 2016 at 3:31pm
Amazon has some" rel="nofollow -

wife: IDC/Lobular Stage2B 2008 lumpectomy/TAC+rads
TNBC Stage 3A/w/metaplastic/squamous Nov2015 Carboplatin-Gemzar chemo/masectomy Taxolchemo+rads 4-16
PET scan stable 9-2016/ 1-2017

Posted By: TriplePositiveGirl
Date Posted: Sep 14 2016 at 3:55pm
Barbara -

I had very good results with Aquafor also. It is very very lubricating. I smeared it on several times a day and never had any issues with skin peeling or blistering.

My doctor also gave me prescription strength cortisone for the itching. I did have some issues with that and the extra strength cortisone helped a lot.

Also - my doctor prescribed Miaderm, which is a topical cream specifically formulated for radiation patients. That worked well also. You might want to ask your doctor about this.

Best Wishes,

Diagnosed Jan 2010; Stage IIa, grade 2, 3.2cm in rt. breast, no nodes and BRCA-. 4 cycles Carbo/Gemzar 3/10; Lump 6/10; 2 cycles carbo/gem after surgery 8/10; 35 Rads finished 12/1/10. NED.

Posted By: 123Donna
Date Posted: Sep 15 2016 at 11:27am

My rad onc gave me several things to try - Aquafor, Silvadyne, another cream I can't remember.  My friend's husband had this huge, very old aloe plant that they gave us.  I used everything and often, but found the juice/milk from the aloe leaves worked the best.  It was amazing and soothed the burns.  (Be careful of aloe juice or lotion you get over the counter.  Most contain alcohol and is not pure aloe.  The alcohol is not good on radiation burns.)


DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

Posted By: Renate
Date Posted: Oct 11 2016 at 1:27pm
Hello everybody,

I am hoping for some information to help me make a decision about upcoming radiation. I just finished my 3rd Taxol treatment and have 9 more to go. After that I was told I will have about three weeks off to recover. After leaving WA State I went to MD Anderson for approx 2 weeks and met with a Radiation Oncologist there prior to leaving for San Antonio. The RO told me that she recommends I come back to MD Anderson for the Radiation even though it will be inconvenient having to stay in an extended stay apartment for 6 weeks. She said they have the most advanced radiation treatment and since my radiation will be over my heart it will be extremely important. She said something about them making a special form for my chest to make sure the radiation goes exactly where it needs to go and they also use only as much radiation as needed. I really do not know anything about it. I made an appointment with the local Radiation Oncologist for next week to find out what their treatment protocol is compared to MD Anderson. I need to decide soon which way I am going because I need to get on a waiting list for housing if I go to MD Anderson.

Would really appreciate any feedback.


Dx: 2/12/16, TNBC, left breast&lymph, age 68, Chemo: 5/23 - 7/6/15 4 A/C, 9/26/16 Taxol 7 out of 12 only; Radiation starting 1/9/17 BMX: 3/4/16; Lymph node removal 4/7/16 Staging: Stage 3A, Grade 3;

Posted By: MMcKinney
Date Posted: Nov 12 2016 at 7:12am
My aunt is undergoing radiation rounds as she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Each radiation oncologist has a different set of recommendations to protect the skin from radiation side effects. Her oncologists use a low-strength hydrocortisone cream during radiation.

Posted By: snugltz
Date Posted: Nov 12 2016 at 1:08pm

there are many messages on here what to do to help during radiation.  Most say aloe.  That was my salvation too.  I am extremely fair.  They thought it would be a real problem for me.  My hubby bought me an aloe plant.  Just slice a leaf open and rub in on.  Worked wonders.  I have given part of my plant to several other ladies with cancer.  None have had any problems with burns. One had it on her upper neck.  Doc didn't even want to do radiation for fear of burning. I gave her some.  She never had trouble. I only got a bit red the last three treatments.  Docs were amazed.  Not bottled aloe, real plants.  You will see many others on here say the same thing. 

1 cm, 0/2 neg nodes, lumpectomy 6/16/10, cytoxin/taxotere 4x every three weeks, rad start 11/8 33X

Posted By: Powder
Date Posted: Jan 05 2017 at 9:14am
I can't stress how much I loved Egyptian Magic during radiation.  I have used it ever since for so many issues and my daughter loves it for acne scarring.  I didn't want to use Aquafor as it was Petroleum based so I found the Egyptian Magic which is olive oil based.  Always consult your RO before using something on your own.  I got the go ahead and used it throughout my 33 radiation rounds.  At the end, my RO asked me for the name of what I had used again.  He said that I looked like I had only 2 weeks of radiation.  He was going to start telling patients about it.

Diagnosed 9/2013 Stage 3B TNBC AND Stage 0 DCIS ER/PR+.  Bilateral Mastectomy, 4 rounds DD A/C, 2 rounds DD Taxol, 2 rounds DD Abraxane, 33 rounds radiation.

Posted By: Renate
Date Posted: Jan 05 2017 at 11:34am
I am reading all the post here because I am starting radiation next week on the 9th. I am way behind with everything due to complications along the way. My double mastectomy was in March followed by A/C which I completed. Then I moved across country and started Taxol late and only finished 7 out of 12 due to complications. Now I am finally getting to the radiation. I have very fair skin and never had a sun tan in my life. I burn very quickly and normally protect my skin from the sun with clothing and sun screen. When I went to the mapping appointment they gave me some Aquaphor samples and told me that is all I can use. I am being treated at the Cancer Treatment & Research Center in San Antonio TX which is part of MD Anderson in Houston. My radiation oncologist is very well known and respected so I am thinking I should listen to him. I am just wondering why there are so many people using other things and would greatly appreciate any recommendations. 

Dx: 2/12/16, TNBC, left breast&lymph, age 68, Chemo: 5/23 - 7/6/15 4 A/C, 9/26/16 Taxol 7 out of 12 only; Radiation starting 1/9/17 BMX: 3/4/16; Lymph node removal 4/7/16 Staging: Stage 3A, Grade 3;

Posted By: Powder
Date Posted: Jan 05 2017 at 1:22pm
Hi, Renate,
I chose to use the Egyptian Magic for the simple fact that I didn't like the feel of Aquaphor along with the fact that it was petroleum based, but I must stress that I did consult my radiation oncologist before using and he did give me the ok after reading the ingredients.  I would have an upfront conversation with your doctor and ask why he feels that Aquaphor is the only option (or the best, for that matter).  I can only speak for myself when I say that in my mind, I needed to be heard by my doctor in this matter and felt that this was a matter of choice.  It went extremely well for me, but I can't say how it would work for others as everyone responds differently.  Open up a conversation, but I agree that faith in your doctor is very important.  If using Aquaphor is not an issue with you for some reason, then I would follow his direction.

Dx 9/2013, TNBC Stage 3B, Grade 3, and DCIS Stage 0, Bilateral Mastectomy, 4 rounds DD A/C, 2 rounds DD Taxol, 2 rounds DD Abraxane, 33x radiation.

Posted By: Renate
Date Posted: Jan 05 2017 at 8:10pm
Thank you Powder for taking the time to respond. I already have Egyptian Magic in my cabinet so I will take it with me my first day and have somebody tell me if it is OK. I did purchase some Aquaphor but don't like it much. 

Take care


Dx: 2/12/16, TNBC, left breast&lymph, age 68, Chemo: 5/23 - 7/6/15 4 A/C, 9/26/16 Taxol 7 out of 12 only; Radiation starting 1/9/17 BMX: 3/4/16; Lymph node removal 4/7/16 Staging: Stage 3A, Grade 3;

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