FROM OUR EXPERTS
During breast cancer treatment, you may have different kinds of pain in your chest.
After surgery, you may feel a mixture of pain and numbness in your chest in the area where surgery was done. This is because nerves were unavoidably bruised, stretched, or cut during surgery. As the nerves grow back, you may feel strange, crawling sensations in your chest. Right after surgery, you may feel brief shooting pains in your chest. This is also because the nerves are irritated.
During and after radiation therapy, you also may feel brief shooting pains in your chest. Again, this is because the nerves are swollen and irritated.
If you have an implant in place and the tissues around it are stretched, you may feel more severe chest pain.
Managing chest pain
If you have chest pain after surgery or during or after radiation therapy, talk to your doctor. A number of medicines, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and opiates, can be used to ease pain.
Some complementary and holistic medicine techni...
Radiation therapy is a highly targeted, highly effective way to destroy cancer cells that may linger after surgery. This reduces the risk of recurrence.
Radiation is usually given after mastectomy in men with:
large cancers (5 centimeters or bigger)
a positive margin of resection (when the cancer comes very close to or is at the edge of the breast tissue removed)
a significant area of lymphatic or blood vessel involvement
significant lymph node involvement (four or more positive nodes)
After mastectomy, radiation therapy is usually given 5 days a week for about 5-7 weeks.
Radiation can also be used for men with advanced (metastatic) disease to relieve symptoms or help avoid complications from specific areas of spread. For example, radiation can help relieve painful bone metastases, decrease the risk of breaking a bone that's been weakened by cancer, decrease bleeding from skin involvement, and reduce neurological symptoms if the cancer puts pressure on nerves or the spinal cord.
Q. I definitely want to avoid lymphedema. Is there anything I can do to ward it off, or is lymphedema totally random? A. The very best thing you can do to help prevent lymphedema is to make sure you get full range of motion back in your arm, whether after surgery or radiation. Favoring the arm on your affected side, hunching your shoulder protectively, being too stiff to stretch your arm up over your head and around towards your back–these are all things that will make it easier for lymphedema to gain a foothold. I have a friend who’s a physical therapist specializing in lymphedema treatment. In fact, we became close as she gave me daily massages to relieve my own swollen arm. (Just as getting a tummy tuck is the silver lining of a tram flap reconstruction, a daily massage is the big plus of having lymphedema!) This friend says that women who’ve had surgery, particularly a mastectomy with lymph node removal (even if just a single node) need physical thera...
You should know
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