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Saturday, October 09, 2010 kaysdaughter, Community Member, asks

Q: Post chem-radiation treatment shingles and bruising?

My mom  (79) finished her chemo and radiation this year for stage  2 IDC and gets recurrent bouts of shingles. She is on valtrex when that occurs.  She received a cat scan  and had a check up with the oncologist in September.  The oncologist nurse saw her. Everything looked good she said.   


She called to tell me that the site of the mastectomy is bruising and she thinks that she has the shingles again.  When she had shingles last time there was what appeared to be a bit of "old looking" bruising with little blistering...just a rash.  


Can shingles cause bruising? She is currently resting out of state and will not be back until the holidays for a scheduled check-up with her oncologist.   I am worried... and I know my mom is too..  Can you get inflammatory breast cancer at a site of a mastectomy?  There is no rash with this shingles...just bruising. 


Please reply.



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Answers (2)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/ 9/10 2:30pm

Hi Kay - Shingles often follows chemo, as a result of your resistance being lowered. Shingles is a dormant virus that can reappear when your resistance is down. So that's not unusual. As for the bruising - has she asked her oncologist about this? I think it would be incredibly unusual to get IBC on the same side after a mastectomy, but it's possible. Perhaps she should call her oncologist, describe her symptoms, and see what s/he says. S/he may want her to get checked out where she is. It would be good to rule IBC out, so that you can both rest easy until she comes back in December. Good luck - PJH

Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
10/10/10 7:07am

I had shingles after treatment, so I know how uncomfortable they can be. They are not unusual after cancer treatment when the immune system is low.

There are all sorts of things that could be going on with the bruised looking area.  It might be skin changes from radiation.  They don't always show up right away.  It could be an infection in the soft tissue called cellulitis.  It could be another bout of shingles.  Maybe it is cancer coming back at the incision line called skin metastasis (skin mets for short).  Skin mets usually show up as little bumps like grains of rice, so this probably isn't that, but they are one skin problem that sometimes flares after treatment.  There is a remote possibility that it could be IBC.  Since I'm not a doctor, I probably don't know half of the problems it could be, including minor ones that are easily solved.  Can your mother's doctor suggest someone she could see where she is staying?  It would be a shame to cut short her trip if the problem is minor or if it's normal skin changes caused by radiation.  However, I think you and your mother will feel better if you know an expert has checked her out.


kaysdaughter, Community Member
10/12/10 5:59am

thanks..will check this out with my mom.

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By kaysdaughter, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/27/10, First Published: 10/09/10