Larger Breasts - Radiotherapy: long term impact?

Dear all:

Still considering treatments - been offered Radiotherapy & Tamoxifen (feel likely to avoid the latter)… (Had recent intermediate DCIS and realise I am very lucky it’s currently clear after surgery). 4 kids under 11, I’m aged 39 and 34F. Am concerned about impact of radio on being slightly larger chested:

Will I end up very odd shaped?
Will I lose 25% in the radiated breast in the process?
Anyone had breast reduction on the other side because of it?
Would a mastectomy be worth considering instead considering all risks/hassle long term at my age? (Mast/recon not easy after radiotherapy?)

Would really appreciate any advice in this field welcome…BB

Hi … I am 38F. I was 40 two years ago - when I started rads. I don’t think I’ve gained or lost from the rads - the only loss is due to the lumpectomy which has changed the shape slightly. The breast was very firm for over a year, and a little on the large side (possibly only due to mild lymph-fluid retention), but has softened down now, more or less back to normal. I would be surprised if you lost anything noticeable, let alone 25% - but everyone is different.

Take extra care during the rads - because with more skin exposed you are likely to get some skin-breakdown and rads-damage. Especially in the nooks and creases. I ended up with an infection that needed anti-biotics. The skin healed quickly once treatment finished, and has not been a problem since -but it was a hassle at the time. I’m not sure what I could’ve done different - ask you local nurses for advice.

I was happy with my choice and treatment - masct/recon would’ve involved so much more surgery.

I am 39 (the big 40 in june…GULP!!!) I have had a lumpectomy for grade 2 ductal invasive, just finished 19 rads and am on tamoxifen and zoladex. I was 36D before lumpectomy am now a 36D and a 36B in the affected side. So far the rads have made no difference. I am with angilbert on the very firm breast thing but no pain and very little redness. The radiographers were all really impressed with my skin although I did follow their instructions to the letter. No deoderant on affected armpit, no bra at all not even cropped tops (I just wore M&S strappy vests one size too small to stop the jiggling) and I also put on the aqueous cream for two weeks before rads started as per the ladies advice on the “any tips for rads newbies” thread.

Even though I am two different sizes its not that noticable, I have been on tamoxifen for nearly two months now and have just today had my second zoladex injection and the side effects so far have been minimal, the odd warm flush at night but nothing too bad.

Good luck with your decision, its awful when they give you a choice isnt it. I too deliberated long and hard but decided on the lumpectomy in the end as I felt as long as the results were good it would be the shortest treatment programme option(Luckily for me it worked out) I had my op on the 9th Jan and am heading back to work now rads are finished on the 1st April. Love Shonagh xx

Dear Shonagh & Angilbert

Really appreciate your comments and openess, this is very comforting. It helps to reinforce where my thinking is going is OK. The things I had read about the 25% were from a website etc…it’s hard to know what is accurate and of course you don’t know til you’ve done it and then there’s no going back. I’m actually not afraid of pain during…it sound like this is likely, am jsut trying to be realistic. Just if the final outcome is something i can cope with or the best of the options etc etc. Have alwasy been useless at decisions! Perhaps I could also try the Tamoxifen: I know my kids may prefer me to take all I’m offered; I’m jsut being selfish! If it does afect me badly then I could come off it…

Not nice is it? and you all sound so strong, thanks for your inspiration. Good luck on your journeys…

my bosom increased a great deal after radiotherapy and it’s now back to what it was before (four or so year’s later) with a dent in it where the surgery took out a quarter. but I was only 36A so it was bound to be more noticeable than in someone bigger breasted. I have heard that years later radiotherapy can lead to shrinkage but not so far

it went up like a balloon and it’s come down now