Saturday, March 5, 2011

More Radiation Permanent Side Effects

Now, it starts coming out. What WILL you experience after radiation? Hard to find out. I mean, it is not as though you're not going to radiation if you don't have a masectomy.... but can't you please let us know?

Radiation Damage of Tissues
The extent and progression over time of tissue damage following radiation depends on the amount of radiation and the fractionation schedule.

Following acute effects, chronic changes may occur which are characterized by a deterioration in the small blood vessels, cells, and fibrosis of tissue. Atrophy and ulceration of soft tissues aggravated by trauma and infection are possible further changes.

Surgery in irradiated tissue can prove to have poor tissue healing.

Radiation injury with impaired healing most often appears three to four years after treatment. It is not uncommon to see progressive chronic degeneration for 10 years+

If you have a cord, you have to work it out [physical therapy]

There is rib soreness. Your ribs are weaker, and could conceivably break more easily.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cholesterol Lowering Medications

Statins, as seen on TV (Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, etc.) Some types of statins are naturally occurring, and can be found in such foods as oyster mushrooms and red yeast rice. I am taking some mushroom juice. It is yummy. You're not supposed to eat any grapefruit, but I'm wildly allergic to it anyway.

Side effects are cognitive loss, neuropathy, pancreatic and hepatic dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction, renal damage, muscle deterioration, and nerve damage. These are all pretty rare, though, and since these are literally the most popular drugs on the market, lots of people are using them.

One medicine which keeps your intestines from absorbing fat. Instinctively, this seems like a good idea, but IT CAUSES CANCER. No dice.

Niacin, yup, the vitamin, which -- good to get some, but better not to induce liver toxicity!


Medicines which make your liver produce more bile. Instinctively, I think that anything *else* that touches the liver is not good.

Bone Loss Support Research

With an anti-estrogen, there are also two additional drugs one has to pursue: one to counter bone density loss and one to counter cholesterol.

Because there are side effects to this, the rule of thumb seems to be to DEMAND (you will have to demand) a bone density scan (different than the bone scan you probably had earlier) to establish a baseline, and WAIT. Yup, they'll ask you to wait until you have bone loss. Yet, there is more. Even if you already have osteoarthritis (I do -- lower back and hips -- who knew)? That is apparently *not enough* to indicate... you're at elevated risk... for osteoarthritis.

I guess these are really drugs to avoid. I'm on prescription strength vitamin D and OTC calcium (which also includes vitamin D).

The ones I know about are Actonel, which my husband took, Fosamax, as seen on tv, and the one Sally Field is the spokesperson for.

Actonel: Risedronate
Fosamax: Alendronate
Boniva: Ibandronate

there are also two more:

Skelid: iludronate
Reclast: zoledronic

These are all bisphosphonates.

Of these, my husband may have had sensitivity to light, but who knows -- he has always been sensitive to light, plus the other medication he was taking caused very similar side effects. It increases risks of cancer in the esophagus to .2% from .1%, which is pretty darned insignificant. It is also used for metastatic cancer in the bone.

Side effects:



dry mouth

stomach pain









leg cramps

back pain

frequent or urgent need to urinate

painful urination

dry eyes

ringing in the ears

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following side effects, call your doctor immediately before you take any more risedronate:

difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing

new or worsening heartburn

chest pain




blisters on skin

swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

difficulty breathing


swollen, red, or painful eyes

sensitivity to light

painful or swollen gums

loosening of the teeth

numbness or heavy feeling in the jaw

poor healing of the jaw

A Path

So, I have chosen a path, which is to begin on raloxifene. If I tolerate it well, I can ramp up to tamoxifen. If I don't, I can find another option.

My oncologist strongly advises avoiding recurrent cancers at all costs, that the 30% reduction in all recurrences is a 30% reduction in recurrent cancers, and that in younger women, recurrent cancer is not 50% mortality rate, but 100% mortality (i.e., even if one has a normal life length, it would not be anything but the cancer which ended it).