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radiation and fat radiation and fat

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Unread 01-20-2010, 09:15 AM
radiation and fat

Hi everyone
I just wanted to clarify a few things for any who may be facing radiation. As it has been pointed out on many threads, most people sail through radiation.
There are couple of reasons that I may not have that might very well be different from most.
My radiation oncologist was worried right from the beginning because I guess I have no fat between my internal organs.
It is a weird point that has been brought up with every ct scan I have and mri etc.
I always thought it seemed weird because I am in no way thin, my BMI is 25 which is actually on the upper limit of what is considered normal. The thing is that it is all about fat distribution.
Having what is called centripital fat (which is more around the middle)(and more specifically more around the middle ON THE INSIDE), is what tends to predispose you to heart disease, but it turns out, it is what protects you during radiation. Fat is not damaged by radiation, AND it absorbs radiation.
When I say fat on the inside, I mean inside the abdominal walls. I have a small roll on the outside of the abdominal muscle, which I guess is also not protective. I guess its whats on the inside that counts
The other thing is that my radiation field went higher than most. ,..
During my surgery all my pelvic lymph nodes AND paraaortic lymph nodes appeared normal, and the only reason they removed the pelvic lymph nodes was that the invasion of the cancer was >50%. So when they later found the positive lymph nodes AND the positive wash, they were concerned about the paraaortic nodes so radiated me a bit higher to attempt to deal with that. Most pelvic radiation only goes to the division between the sacral vertebra and the lumbar vertebra (where the pelvis joins the spine)
Mine went up a few vertebra higher.
Despite having had some issues with the small bowel and abdominal pain, much of it has resolved with dietary changes.
I am extremely fit, I hike, or run almost everyday, I work full time, and I cook gourmet dinners every night, and have only had to alter them somewhat, they are still very healthy.

Of note, there are also new "minor" procedures that are being done to prevent the small bowel from going down into the radiation field, one is where they can tack the bladder to the sacral wall, to prevent the small bowel from going down.
There are also new products that they are inserting, creating a balloon that sits inside there, keeping the bowels safe during radiation. (might be worth at least asking if any of these are being used)

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Unread 01-20-2010, 01:49 PM
Re: radiation and fat

Very interesting information. Thanks, Janet!

Unread 01-20-2010, 02:08 PM
Re: radiation and fat

Hi Janet - Thanks for the info. Interesting! Although I'm fluffy on the outside, I wonder if I'm svelte on the inside considering the number of problems I've had.

I had a balloon in "there" once when I was undergoing some tests, and it was not very uncomfortable other than being embarrassing when it was inserted. Good idea!

When breast cancer patients have lymph nodes removed, they have just the sentinel node removed, and if that's okay, then they remove no more. Could they do that for pelvic nodes?
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Unread 01-20-2010, 02:19 PM
Re: radiation and fat

Thus far in studies they have not found the sentinal node to be as accurate, at least with endo cancer, seems to me that they are having SOME success with one of the gyne cancers , I will look that up. I like the fluffy term
Unread 01-20-2010, 06:56 PM
Re: radiation and fat

Thanks for all of the interestin information. One of my para-aortic nodes was positive, along with two others, all in different places. My rad/onc said my kidneys hung too low to radiate in that upper area so I didn't even have any internal radiation. He showed my husband and me pictures of my insides and all of the internal fat. I was embarassed about it, but I guess it helped in the long run (: ! My husband asked if they could hang me upside down to push the kidneys out of the way and the doctor said it doesn't work like that.

I have an appointment with a surgeon tomorrow to see about my umbilical hernia which is getting bigger and causing intermittent pain.

Thanks again for all of the info.

Unread 01-22-2010, 05:39 AM
Re: radiation and fat

Jan - I laughed at your hubby's suggestion! Good idea!

Good luck with your umbilical hernia!

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