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Deciding on radiation or not Deciding on radiation or not

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Unread 05-01-2004, 01:38 PM
Deciding on radiation or not

Dear Typing Teacher,

Your family doctor may have a somewhat slanted view because he's likely to see and hear from the patients that had problems after pelvic radiation--not the much larger percentage of people who did fine and have no problems. I had both internal and external and have only very minor bowel urgency, but nothing that interferes with my life in any way. In fact, I think my situation improved since radiation, because before radiation, I used to be rather constipated at times.

As far as asking your doctors about radiation, I would suggest you might want to ask gynecologic oncologists, rather than doctors such as your family physician or ob-gyn. They don't see cancer every day like cancer specialists do, and at least my experience is that they know very little about cancer, treatment protocols, risk factors for recurrence, etc. If it were me, I would definitely not make a decision about cancer treatment based on the opinions of non-cancer physicians, whether generalists or specialists.

If you feel it's necessary to get additional opinions on the radiation issue, by all means do so, but make sure it's someone who deals with the type of cancer to which your questions pertain, so that you're getting the best available information.

Have your gyn-onc and radiation oncologist advised how much the radiation would reduce your chances of recurrence and/or increase your chances of survival? This would be a critical factor in my decision-making process on the issue.

Good luck,

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Unread 05-01-2004, 02:05 PM
Deciding on radiation or not

I hesitate to throw this into the mix, but....

My gyn/onc told me he would go an extra mile to keep me off radiation because I am "too young." (Apparently the other end of the spectrum from doctors who want you to have it because you're "too young"!) He said in his experience there are longterm side effects he'd rather I not have to deal with, and thought a second major surgery was an option kinder to my body in the long run. (I should mention that I have no health problems--or at least I didn't, until the TAH found one!)(I should also mention that yes, he's a surgeon, but he also handles chemo and radiation through his office) I knew that if my second surgery revealed further cancer, I was going to be whisked off for radiation AND chemo, but I absolutely didn't want it unless there was cancer still in me.

I know many people who have gone through radiation with no problems whatsoever, but before I'd have it I'd really want to know what the statistical improvement in my condition would be.

Good luck with your decision.
Unread 05-02-2004, 11:30 AM
Radiation or Not??

Hi again,

A week after my TAH, my ob/gyn received my pathology report. He had just had surgery himself so I guess he was reading reports the minute he was conscious! He told me that 99.9% of the cancer was removed, but that he didn't make decisions on the .1% that might be left. That's when he referred me to a gyn/onc. Yes, the oncologist is leaning towards radiation. He then referred me to a radiation doctor (last week) so I could get more information. Of course, this doctor is in private practice for himself, and we knew he'd say, "Have radiation!" My family doctor has just been on the sidelines the entire time and reading all the reports that have been sent to him from the other three doctors. Meanwhile this seems like it has dragged on forever...although it really hasn't. The radiation doctor told me I have about two weeks to decide. My family doctor's advice was totally out of the blue when I called him on an insulin problem. Well, tomorrow I will discuss things with the ob/gyn that did the surgery. He's a little difficult to talk to sometimes. He's an older doctor that is extremely smart so maybe he'll open up with his opinion. Somehow I will come to a decision.

Thanks for everyone's opinions. This is an awesome website. I know everyone's health, situation, and opinions are different, but it certainly is comforting to hear from others that have been in the same situation.

Hug to all!
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Unread 05-02-2004, 12:44 PM
Deciding on radiation or not

Typing teacher,
No, once an area has been radiated, it cannot be radiated again. It's done.

I agree that your regular doctor only sees patients who have problems after radiation, not the 95+% who don't. I've had a difference in bowels since radiation. I go more than once a day, but it's nothing that has interferred in my life AT ALL. I have had NO reason to see a doctor about any lasting side effects.

A question to ask yourself is, how will you feel if you don't use all the available weapons and the cancer returns, or more likely, that 1% that is left spreads to somewhere else because it's still there? Most of us only get one chance to knock out cancer permanently. Can you live with the concern of not having tried everything to make sure it's gone? How does your family feel about that? In my case, my family REALLY pushed me to do everything possible to beat cancer. They simply wouldn't let me cut any corners in my treatment. They were so scared, they wanted to be sure that everything possible was being done to defeat the beast!

Ask your gyn/onc what the survival rates are for your kind of cancer, with radiation, and without. That might also help you to make your decision.

BTW, my 90 year old aunt had pelvic radiation last year (her cancer came back after a hysterectomy 40 years earlier!) and she's completely fine, still driving, flying, vacationing, walking, doing everything she always did.


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