Why is it worse for big breasts?

I have just had an appointment with my oncologist. She looked at my breasts and straight away said that I was going to have problems. She said that because I have pale skin and big breasts I will burn. She said I would be “in agony” for a month after the radiotherapy.

I wonder if anyone can tell me why having big breasts makes me more likely to burn. I asked the breast care nurse but she just said it was to do with the density. Will I have to have more radiation in each treatment because I have big breasts?

I would also be grateful to know of anything I can do before the treatment ( in about 3 weeks time) that will help to stop so much burning.

Thanks
Sue

i can’t believe that-i’m just off for my 15th and last yippee rad session-i haven’t had any problems at all and i’ve got big bazookas-i wear a 38 dd-x

and my skin hasn’t burnt-just a bit pink but i am aware it could peak once treatment is over-i moisturised like mad before and during using something from the gp called doublebase-u can get it in prescription-and aques (not spelt right)from the rads team-but old and lumpy will be along soon-she will advise you-she’s got great advice and ideas even if she is old and lumpy ha ha

Very interesting question .I am on ec 4 next weekout of 6 then its radiotherapy.I have a meeting with my radiologist on oct 12th.Not sure what to expect at all . I am a 34gg so help. Hope you get some answers from people who have been for radio already. Good luck with it xx

Thank you for your reply. I’m glad you havent had any trouble- The oncologist told me it would be after the treatment, for a month! I hope your’s stay good.

Hi - I had rads back in 09, also have pale skin and big boobs (one down now but hey ho) and my onc said something similar to me - but I used loads of aqueous cream and it was no worse than mild sunburn. I had a boost however (intensive close up rads in one place) for five days and that did burn and open up the skin and wasn’t much fun but was bearable with painkillers.

Try not to worry too much, rads can be a bit uncomfortable and a lot of people get a bit fatigued on them but they are really not so bad :slight_smile:

Ruby.x

Lisha

You might be OK if you dont have such pale skin as me. I hope it goes well for you.

Sue

Thanks Ruby. That gives me hope.

hi you dont burn because of the size of the boobys… you MAY burn because of your skin type… some pale people who burn in the sunshine may have more chance of burning… angie

Thanks Ladysue hope it goes well for you too xx

I am also a 36-38 DD (or was!) had WLE, chemo & then 15 rads & 3 boosters (special zap for the scar area). Like lots of other ladies, I used 99% aloe vera gel from H&B (approved by Rads team) before and during rads, had some redness but the only burn I had was on my collar bone where they zapped my nodes, this did hurt and I had 1% hydrocortisone cream which sorted it out in a week.

They also advised me not to wear a bra (swing low sweet chariot…) and I bought a support vest from M&S a size too big just to give me some dignity when going to the hospital. Other than that I just covered up and wore loose fitting clothes during rads and for 3 weeks after.

Try not to worry too much, you may be lucky and get through it OK!

DaisyGirl xx

hi, I think I am the only person on this forum that has a downer on aqueous cream. It is suggested that it can thin you skin and it can make it dryer. There as been a very small study done on volunteers with healthy skin putting aqueous cream on one half of their arm and not on the other for 10 minutes twice a day for 4 weeks. They had machines to test the skin and found that in 60% the people there was a large thining of the skin (12% thiner) and increased water loss through the skin(20% greater water loss)

Its because there is a detergent in aqueous cream that affects some peoples skin. Even boots has a warning on its website that it should not be use on people with dry skin conditions.

I never use moisturisors, but decided that i ought to get my boobs in good nick (i am a double G) and started trying all sorts before treatment. I hated aloe vera gel, perhaps its wrong for my skin type because lots of people on here swear by it. Bio oil was nice, but I settled on emu oil and have used it all through rad treatment.

what cream did you oncologyst recommend?? different hospitals use different things, mine said aqueous-- i said no, or the aloe vera, bu they did say it was alright to use anything pure.

I have had 15 rads ad 5 high power ones. I suddenly was a bit more tired than usual after the last one that has lasted 3 days, but it was more like flu, so perhaps i was just sickening for something. Skin ok so far, just a bit tender and prickly in the crease underneath And i have had nerve pain within the boob, a bit like electricity suddenly running through it. Not realy painful just a bit of a shock and embarassing when you suddenly grab yourself in public.

I think the way to avoid getting tired is work out how many hours the treatment and travel will take out of your day and then decide what you are going to cut out of your day to fit it in. Very hard if you have a job and family, but just be totally selfish for a month, stress adds to radiation fatigue.

The other thing my team mentioned was that the ladies that had most problems were those that admitted to smoking (or the ones that smelled of smoke) They said there was no need to stop drinking in moderation (and we all have different ideas of moderation dont we)

there was a huge long thread on creams for radiation, I’ll see if i can find it

HI - I’ve just finished my radiotherapy - although I know it will get worse (for a couple of weeks I was told) its not been too bad. I’ve used E45 twice or three times a day. And I’m wearing a cotton medium support bra from M and S - I bought two before surgery (WLE & SNB. I’m fair skinned and prone to skin problems, but so far, its not been bad.

My oncologist (who is a rather well-endowed lady!) said larger breasts can mean that the crease underneath is more prone to getting sore. She also said that skin tone doesn’t have a bearing on how skin reacts to radiotherapy. People who burn easily in the sun can be fine, and vice versa.

My breast is very tender, and again I was warned that it will get worse before it gets better. But quite bearable. I’m short on stamina, but have managed to keep working. I have cut back, as Old and Lumpy wisely suggests, on some of my activities and have been VERY lazy at weekends.

araminta

Its interesting that your oncologist says something different from mine. I hope that yous is right.

I hope you continue to be OK.

Hi, Ladysue. You could use e45 instead of aquaeous cream, but I haven’t had any real trouble using the aquaeous. It’s good for washing with, because you get some emollient with the washing. Exposing the treatment area to air seems to help a lot. Going braless isn’t so great when you’re large, but a support vest or soft cotton sports bra might help, and if you can find enough privacy to uncover for half an hour or an hour, that might help. Aloe vera isn’t actually a moisturiser, but it helps to protect and heal sore skin. Because it’s a gel, it clings and cools while it dries. Ask about applying it after treatment, washing it off before the next one, or try using it over the weekend. It’s certainly good after treatment has finished.

It’s also a good idea to moisturise madly, perhaps with something thick like a body butter, before treatment starts and then after it finishes.

Hi Lady Sue
I’m ‘reasonably’ endowed, and Scottish white - it doesn’t come any whiter! I had bilateral WLE and then rads, 15+4 boosts and to be honest I found it a very painless process all together. I was told more than once that paleness doesn’t always mean that you’ll burn, and other than a slight pinkishness to the extent that I could see the bit in the middle they missed, I was unaffected. Minimal pinkness under boobs too. I bought the aqueous cream - a very large tub, - but hardly used any as I didn’t find I needed it.

A lady I travelled with sometime got much more irritation, she tanned well and was a bit of a sun worshipper, which I am not. So my theory was that it may be exposure to sun in the past that makes you more susceptible.

I didn’t get any tiredness either, so the side effects are not inevitable.

Now aromatase inhibitors - that’s another story!!!

Good luck
S

Thank you Ladies for all your comments. I am a bit reassured, especially that all pale skinned people dont seem to get trouble.

I think that saying I would be “in agony for a month” was a bit offputting coming from the oncologist.I just hope I can prove her wrong. She didnt suggest anything that could help.I will definitely get some 99 per cent aloe vera. I have aqueous cream and deprobase and E45 already as I have very dry skin. I will try to get my boob well moisturised in advance!

I am so glad I can come on here and chat and get helpful hints. It wasnt just the rads thing I was upset about today- there were other things said that dont add up- like the oncologist was surprised at where my boob scar is, and she also told me I had 9 lymph nodes removed even though the sentinel node was clear.I came home with my head full of questions! Oh well I expect all will be revealed.

Thank you
Sue

Sue, although I was advised to NOT wear a bra (36DD) I was a lot more comfortable and went back into the sports bras. I bought a very comfy, cotton-lined one from Sainsbury - bargain at a fiver a pop - and wore that all the time during the day. I also slathered on the aloe vera gel, and if I got dressed before it dried, it stuck the bra to my skin so I didn’t have ANY friction. it was only before the very last booster (had 15+5 boosts) that the skin underneath started to break down a bit, and around the areola and nipple, and they gave me something called Intrasite, but didn’t tell me how to use it so that was a bit of a nuisance. The thing that helped most was to prevent any friction AT ALL, and to let some air get to the vulnerable bits. Some people have rads going under their arm and that can also make it a bit sensitive - anywhere the skin rubs or touches other skin may be susceptible.

Thank you Choccie Muffin. I have got one comfy bra I bought for post op but I will look for something like you suggest. Because I am fat I dont think I will be able to get a sports bra.

Sue

Ive just finished my 15 rads two weeks ago and am rather well endowed, 40f, i have been using aqueous cream on my boob since my first of 3 ops in december which i think helped with the rads.I had only finished chemo 9 weeks earlier and had mastectomy with tramflap reconstruction 6 weeks earlier. I’m pleased to say that i have not had any burns at all just a little tenderness on some scarring from the second op. I think all the pre helped. My oncologist told me only to use E45, aqueous cream and simple shower gel nothing else. I wore my post op bras everyday throughout rads. Hope everything goes well for you.