Hypofractionated radiotherapy and large heavy breasts

Has anyone with big heavy breasts had hypofractioned radiotherapy? I’ve just got my dates for treatment and I’m starting to worry a bit. I’m due to have 26gy in 5 fractions to the whole breast, and then 5 boosts to the tumour bed.

My main fear is my boobs are too big, and I’m more likely to have skin problems as a result. I’m a K cup. Each breast is literally bigger than my head, and they weigh a couple of kilos each. I have no idea how they’ll be able to get the boob being treated to stay in the exact same position and not move during treatment. When I lie down topless they fold over and fall into my armpits. How will they get the radiation into and under the creases? They’ve outsourced my planning scan to a private sector centre so I won’t be seeing any of the radiology team until the day of my first treatment - and there’s no info on any of this on the hospital website. Would love to hear how radiotherapy went for anyone else with stupidly large boobs.

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They will probably suggest you wear a cotton non wired bra for the sessions to keep your boobs in the right place ,that’s what happened to me . Both comical and cringey at the same time they asked if they could “customise” one of my bras and cut some holes in it so they could see the radiotherapy tattoos ( markers ) I had done . I then saw them carry it through ceremonially just before I was called for my appointment and I had to put it on .
I did find my skin broke down underneath my boobs , they gave me a gel to put in the broken skin which helped a little.
Ask these questions at your planning meeting ,if you don’t feel re-assured speak to your BC nurse for some advice .

Hi @Briallen, I’m a 36H (although old righty is probably a G after surgery in all honesty) and I had the hyperfractionated rads a year ago. I didn’t have any skin breakdown whatsoever. Don’t know if I was just lucky but all I had was a slight sunkissed glow which turned a bit brown, like a light tan, which faded over 4-6 months.

When you go for your planning appointment, where you get your tattoos, they will factor in how your boobs lay when you are on your back with your arms up. I’m sure you won’t be the only woman of your size to go through the process and, like all the health practitioners I came into contact with, yours will have seen it all before and know what they’re doing. When you go for the planning appointment, however, make sure you mention these concerns to them so that they can reassure you that they will make the necessary adjustments.

Please try not to worry. Just make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be in that position so there is no added stress to you whilst you’re having the treatment as you have to remain completely still during the treatment (which in my case was less than a minute). I found it absolutely doable but was still grateful that I had the fewer sessions purely because of arthritis in my right shoulder.

Thank you so much both of you. It really helps to hear what actually happened when you had your treatments. I think I was just panicking because I won’t get to meet any of the hospital staff at the planning scan - I’m being sent to a private sector CT scan provider in another city, and won’t meet the radiotherapy team at my hospital until the day of my first session. So no chance to ask questions or find out what they’ll be doing me, until I’m actually in the machine. The mystery probably makes it seem scarier than it actually is.

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I don’t think I ever met the same staff who were at my radiotherapy planning again ! I can understand why it makes you feel uneasy , just one more unknown isn’t it and that makes you feel more worried about the process .I had 3 weeks radiotherapy , this was before the option of 5 days became available . It got very routine and mundane !! The highlight was when the machine broke down after they’d spent 15 minutes lining me up and they asked me could I lie still in the right position while the maintenance man came to fix it !! Was glad I had floppy boobs on that occasion as at least I had a bra on !!!

Same as @Jill1998 for me. I never saw the team from the planning appointment again. On top of that, the oncologist from a different hospital had to review and sign of their plan and I had 4 sessions at one hospital and the final session at a third hospital! They all know what they’re doing. I also agree that the most frustrating thing about the process can be the waiting around because of technical problems. The first four sessions were all meant to be 5.30pm but on two occasions, after the treatment, I had to be let out of the unit by the cleaner! None of this was an issue as every one of rhe radiotherapists were kind, patient and professional and once your turn comes, it’s very quick.