Oncology (General Cancer)/radiation side effects

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Dr. Nordquist:  

My mother finished up ten treatments of radiation for a tumor in back of her eye.  The tumor was metastasis from breast cancer.  Since having the treatments, she suffers from debilitating fatigue that is intermittent, but has at least several days a week like this.  Could this be a normal side effect of the radiation this far out, and if so, how long can she expect it to last?  Also, are hair loss and taste disturbances likely to be permanent or temporary?  

Thank you for your time.  

Sincerely,

Melodie

Answer
Your mother's breast cancer has spread. From what you have written I am not sure precisely to where. It is either to behind her eyes which may be in her brain or to the back of (inside) her eyes. Since her cancer has spread to another organ (eyes or brain) from one of her breasts it is now by definition a stage 4 (IV), breast cancer. The worst stage alternative. That is in principle at present incurable and eventually lethal though the process may be delayed and symptoms temporarily relieved by further treatment. If a cancer has spread to somewhere it has usually also spread or will eventually spread to elsewhere even if not detected or even detectable yet! Even if her cancer has not spread to her brain her brain will be involved in any treatment involving her eyes when we discuss radiation therapy. So her symptoms my well be due to her radiation. That usually gets better over time. How fast depends on how much radiation she has received. The more she was given the longer it will take. If her brain was involved by the cancer at least part of her symptoms may be due to that. In that case her cancer may return fast enough for her never to feel any relief unfortunately. Taste disturbances and hair loss may be temporary or permanent depending on radiation dose. The higher the dose the less likely a recovery is. If her cancer returns her remaining survival time will probably be very limited. I am sorry I have nothing better to tell you!


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Oncology (General Cancer)

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Claes-Gustaf Nordquist, M.D.

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Questions concerning Cancer, Oncology, radiation Therapy, Tumours, Chemotherapy, Cytotoxic Drugs, Hormonal Therapy, Radiation Protection.

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I'm a Doctor of Medicine and specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiation Therapy educated & trained in Sweden. Now retired. Background in Radiation Therapy, Medical Oncology, Radiation Protection, Nuclear Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology, Gynecological Oncology, Clinical Pathology, Clinical Cytology,Hematology and Internal Medicine. M.D. from the faculty of medicine, Royal Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Have also been an exchange student at the Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem Israel. Former medical consultant, Swedish National Board of Radiation Protection. Former Police Surgeon and Medical Examiner, Stockholm Police Department. Former Chief Medical Officer, The Royal Guards, The Royal Horse Guards and the Royal Household Brigade, Royal Swedish Army Medical Corps. You can also reach me on: http://www.lifestylerescue.com/expert/health-fitness-advice/dr-claes-gustaf/128 I have no restrictions in the number of questions there. I also answer questions in these other categories: General History, Military History, Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer

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I'm a medical doctor and specialist in medical oncology and radiation therapy

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