• Radiation boosts

    Asked by MicheleP on Saturday, March 30, 2013

    Radiation boosts

    What are the reasons for the radiation boosts and why are they necessary?

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • carm's Avatar
      carm

      MicheleP,
      Radiation boosts are supplemental boosts usually given at the end of radiation treatments and usually at slightly higher doses with each boost to ensure your radiation treatments were and remain successful. They are akin to an end treatment bolus. Best of luck to you, Carm RN.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar
      Gabba

      The initial radiation treatments have wider margins, the final boosts, usually the last five treatments, are aimed directly at the site of the former tumor. It's like getting a tetanus booster, the initial shots give you some protection but the booster does just that -> gives that site a booster of radiation. I wish you good luck and God bless!

      almost 4 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar
      CAL (Best Answer!)

      The radiation technologists explained it to me as not only a different type of radiation (I think it was proton versus electron-maybe vice versa) but that the boost treatments did not go as deep but were directed at the tumor site (ex-tumor site for me). The first 28 treatments where "whole breast" treatments which went deeper into the tissue. Fortunately, I was able to have these first 28 in the prone (on my stomach) position so there was minimal effect on underlying organs. I tolerated it well with some blistering only at treatment #26. The 5 boost treatments where with me on my back and while they still caused redness at the site, they didn't cause any blistering and didn't seem to cause any significant problem with lung/heart/esophagus. I am have a very fair complexion and tend to have dry skin so my radiation oncologist was pretty certain I would have burning on the skin. So to make it through with just a few blisters that healed within a week made me very happy. I do have some tips for large breasted women that helped me.
      1. Use some cotton washcloths or even cotton tube socks (one inside the other) under the bra band to help avoid constant moisture which adds to the irritation. I have actually done this for many years and I use my husband and sons' old white cotton socks and put one inside the other and zigzag stitch them a little to keep them from balling up. During radiation, I got more sore/irritated under the breast so this helped keep the bra band from adding to that irritation.
      2. After washing, dry the area under the breast well and use either the radiogel (prescribed) and an over the counter hydrocortisone cream with aloe ( my radiation oncologist said I could use it to help with the itching but it also helps with moisturing--just don't use on open sores) but then let it dry well before getting dressed.
      3. If you have an old, cotton, loose bra, wear it on days when you don't have look quite your best. It's not as supportive but the looser band and cloth seemed to irritate the already sensitized skin around and under the breast much less.
      4. At night sleep without a bra and with as loose of clothing as possible to let air circulate and keep the skin dry and healing. This was a bit harder for me as it was still winter and we keep our house temperature cool at night but sleeping without covers and even without a nightgown seemed to help reduce the moisture and irritation. I would try to position myself to keep the breast from touching skin to skin and adding to the moisture problem. I learned to sleep on my back a little and repositioned myself every few hours.

      Hope that wasn't TMI, but I am just a practical person and wanted to get through all this with as few side effects as possible.

      almost 4 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar
      gwendolyn

      I had full mastectomy so my rad boosts were specific to the scar area. My rad onc explained to me that women who have mastectomies are most likely to have recurrence in scar area (if they have recurrence) since there is no remaining breast tissue.

      almost 4 years ago
    • debsweb18's Avatar
      debsweb18

      I was told the same as Gwendolyn. I had a full mastectomy, 28 radiation treatments and 6 boosts at the incision site.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar
      Gabba

      I like CAL's suggestions...I have used men's white handkerchiefs under the bra band for years, they are soft and do not add much bulk, a piece of old flannel works well also. The best way I found to be sure the area under the breasts is dry is to use the hair dryer on cool...I also used a portable fan while holding my affected breast up when my burns became intolerable...they did everything they could to prevent the burns but I knew as a large breasted woman there was the possibility of this side effect. And while all the burns healed within two weeks, if I get overheated, perspire a lot, etc. the same area where the burns occurred will become red and itchy...that's when I use Nystatin powder (an anti fungal powder) which clears it up.
      For those celebrating Easter today, I wish you a Happy and Holy one.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Netsy's Avatar
      Netsy

      This means YOUR AT THE END! YAHOOO for you! Freedom again not to have to report everyday at a certain time! I inched more after treatment stopped but relieved by hydrocortisone cream. Happy for you!

      almost 4 years ago
    • MicheleP's Avatar
      MicheleP

      Thank you all so much for answering my question. I really appreciate the very good sounding helpful hints. I have 9 to go before the boosts and its starting to get very uncomfortable under my breast and arm. I even try not to swing my arm when I walk so it wont rub. What if I get blisters?What is a good thing to put on for relief as it gets more sensitive? Thanks again to everyone.

      almost 4 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar
      CAL

      Hi MicheleP,
      Good to hear you are getting close to the single digit number of treatments left. I forgot to add what my Rad Oncologist had me use over the blisters (after I stupidly used a large bandaid and the adhesive part of it pulled off a small section of the fragile skin--I knew better but it was late at night and I thought it would be ok til my appt. the next day--we all live and learn). So, they did clean the blisters with a little peroxide just to see if they were oozing and/or infected but because they were just popped blisters, they had me just wash the area with a mild soap/antiseptic, dry well, then use this product call Mepilex Lite made by Safetac Technlogy. It is an absorbent, soft silicone dressing that has a Very light adhesive so most of the time it would stay on even without a bra. They gave me a box of these at the clinic and I ended up cutting the 4x4 pieces into fourths as I only needed a small size over the open areas. There is no medicine on these but they allow some air, absorb any drainage and don't pull off anymore of the already fragile skin. The Rad Oncologist did not want me to use any ointment (not even Neosporin) on the open sores, but said I could keep using both the Radiogel and the Hydrocortisone cream with Aloe on the rest of the breast. That seemed to help the itching and dryness a lot but under the breast was the most sore and bothered me the most. I am 3 weeks post radiation and most of the redness is gone, the blisters and open sore are totally healed, the soreness is gone, but I still have dryness of the skin over the breast. They told me at my last appointment that I can now just use a regular moisturizer on the skin. I was also told that I have to use a sunblock on my summer tops (a Rit product) this year or purchase new tops with sunscreen protection in the cloth (I'll use the Rit). According to my Rad. Oncologist, the sun rays coming through my clothing will be hard on the radiated area for at least 6 months.
      Through all this (and the chemo) I have been taking a boatload of nutritional supplements prescribed by my med. oncologist. I do think the extra vitamins and the anti-inflamatory supplements helped keep me from burning as badly and helped me heal. I eat well, lots of greens and vegetables as well as vegetable protein, so that probably helped as well. Good luck with the last 14 treatments.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Netsy's Avatar
      Netsy

      I am 3 weeks post external radiation today! I too had the normal redness, itchiness and blistering under arm and under breast! I am heeled now. This is temporary you will be back to normal. I have not pain at all, no tingling etc. I would put my Aquaphor on after treatments. My itching did not occur until I finished and used Cortizone10. In between used Dr. Hess Udder ointments to restore skin. All of these are inexpensive at Walmart or Walgreen. I too noticed it was more comfortable to keep the affected are slightly extended not flat to side. When I sat in a chair I extended it, helped greatly with discomfort. Wishing you the best oh the boost was wonderful because my blister areas were not in that field of radiation. Hope this info helps

      almost 4 years ago

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