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Rib pain just below radiotherapy site


Re: Rib pain just below radiotherapy site

Hi Ladywell,

Thank you for your post.

It sounds like you are having a difficult time at the moment.  Waiting for results and information can be a very worrying time. It’s quite normal for your mind to run away with itself and try and fill the gaps from the situation with your own thoughts and the possible outcomes.

We are unable to say for certain what is causing the pain in your ribs.  However, pain and sensitivity in the rib area is not uncommon following radiotherapy.  There are many nerves in that area, which if affected by radiotherapy can cause these types of changes. As your rib cage constantly moves whilst you are breathing, this also means that pain can be worse on deep breathing.

We often find we can help people more on the phone, so as you’ve asked to talk this through, I’d encourage you to give our Helpline to chat with one of our Helpline team. They have plenty of time to listen to your concerns and offer support.  Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks.

The number is 0808 800 6000 (Text relay prefix 18001).

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Please be aware that we will be closed on Monday 31 August due to the bank holiday. 

Best wishes


Breast Cancer Now Nurse

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Rib pain just below radiotherapy site

Hi, I was diagnosed with primary breast cancer for the second time at the end of last year four and half years after the first diagnosis. The tumour was detected following xrays, CT and PET scans of my chest for an unrelated issue.  I had a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy and the medication was changed from Tamoxifen to Letrozol which I started taking at the end of radiation treatment on May 1st.  My oncologist made a referral to the virtual respiratory clinic to review the lung scan results.  Over the past three to four weeks I’ve had sensitivity on my ribs below the breast. As the feeling has worsened more recently causing pain and discomfort when taking deep breaths I contacted the GP and spoke to the a nurse at hospital which has now made me feel really nervous.  It was suggested I attend A&E for a scan but I explained I had been called for a CT scan of the chest Saturday before last.  The nurse was able to check the system to see the scan result and then suggested that the planned appointment with the oncologist be moved forward ASAP.  I’m sure she wasn’t trying to frighten me but she wasn’t able to reassure me that the result was ok and I’m now worried and need some reassurance that my mind is not running away with itself. 

I have been called today to let me know the appointment is being arranged for 2nd September.  

I am taking gabapentin and paracetamol for the pain which has taken the edge off it so don’t want to take any more medication. 

Can someone talk me through this please?