Radiation burn side effects

Dino just finished 20 radiation treatments. He has had two rounds of chemo, the last one last Thursday. The radiation was aimed at a tumor in his spine, treated from the front of his chest, but now he has a horrible, red and scabby rash all over his back that burns horribly. Nobody warned us of this. Last time Dino was at the radiologist's he mentioned it, the doc looked at it and said, "Didn't anyone give you lotion for this?" Well, no, in fact nobody did. So he is in agony. We have lotion now, but its hard for it to sink into the scabby surface of the rash. In addition, his esophogus burns badly and its difficult for him to swallow.
My question: When can we expect the radiation effects to subside?

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Hi Willadino, I can't believe the Dr. looked right at it, asked that and then didn't Rx anything for it!?! I don't have any experience with radiation (yet) but I have read that some people get something called "magic mouthwash" to gargle with that soothes the throat.....Hopefully someone is still up that knows more or can help you early in the morning. I would call the Dr. back as well and ask if there is anything Rx that would specifically help and if not, what do they advise....Hydrocortisone cream? Aloe Vera? I'm sure Aloe Vera couldn't hurt and if it's scabbing up I would ask if you should put Neosporin on it to prevent infection. I would probably avoid lotions and creams with alot of fragrance, as they are more likely to irritate. Sorry I couldn't be more help! ♥ Viktory

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My wife just finished 35 radiation treatment right about christmas, the side effects subsided pretty quick, the scabbing cleared up but she is still dealing with the swallowing issue. Our Onc said she may have to have a Bronchoscopy to open her asauphagus to make swallowing easier but she wants some time off and it is bearable at this point. The one thing I can say is get ready to scratch the itch, my wife is contantly itchy from the radiation so me and my 3 kids take turns scratching her back to ease the suffering. Hopefully Dino will have a quick recovery and remember scratch his back. Good luck

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my husband also had radiation 33 of them to his chest for a large tumor it was tough on him he was put on a liquid pain killer. he had the magic mouth wash but it made him sick so he could not take that his oncologist told him his throat would not feel better til about 2 weeks after radiation was done and that the raiation is still working after it is done. it was pretty much 2 weeks after radiation that he noticed his throat started to feel better i hope this has helped

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I had 36 radiation treatments last Aug-September. They were to my chest for lung cancer. My chest got so burned I had to take a week off because it was bleeding, they gave me Silvadene (sp) its a while salve, best stuff ever made for burns! Had everything cleared up in a matter of days.
As to the swallowing issue...It was a couple of months before I could eat much of anything but soup and soft things like yogurt and pudding. I still have trouble with some things but it's getting better every day, I haven't mastered a cheese burger yet but I will.

Good luck, Sue

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My dad (sclc) had 31 chest radiation which affected esophagus too. He couldn't swallow, eat, drink or speak easily for almost 3 months and he had that red rash that you mentioned like a burnt. Now (almost a year after) he still coughs and black tissue (burnt tissue) is coming out of his throat. Doctors told us that it is normal because what radiation actually do is to burn the tumor. We don't care about all these as we are happy that he is still with us, alive and as healthy as he can be. (You can read my whole story in my discussions). He used baby powder while he was doing the radiation and Bepanthol cream when he finished with them.

Be patient. Needs a lot of time but be sure that all these will go and soon Dino will not remember the bad situations but he will be happy that he is still alive.

I wish you all the best.

xxx

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I'm curious as to what kind of radiation is causing all this damage. I've had successful Novalis and TomoTherapy with no side effects of any kind, and I had one treatment per day for 10 days, not 31 or 33. Was any of this damage caused by TomoTherapy or Novalis, or is this the result of standard radiation?
Charlene

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I'm sorry that your fiance is having to go through all of this. When I had 37 radiation treatments and weekly carbo/taxol treatments I was told to use Dove unscented soap and not to rub the radiated areas and also to use aloe vera gel on the area. My skin did not burn at all, but I did get a "tan" mark. However, the esophagitis was terrible. It was so bad that I actually wouldn't swallow my saliva sometimes. They gave me a number of medications: magic mouthwash (did nothing), lidocaine viscous liquid (made me gag but did work somewhat), Gelclaire (tasted like licorice and did help the most out of the swallowed meds); percocet (had to crush and take in applesauce) and finally liquid morphine (made me sleep so I didn't care that I was in pain lol). Six weeks after completing treatment I developed a UTI and was hospitalized. While there they decided to scope me to see what was causing all my pain. Turns out I had developed esophageal strictures, narrowing caused by scar tissue. The scope actually stretched my esophagus and alleviated the problem. I was knocked out when they did this so no pain. Hope this has helped.
Cheryll

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I had 39 radiations to my chest area. I got radiation burns on my chest and back. My onc gave me Miaderm and also coconut oil. Both of these helped. The burn started half way through treatment and when I started these I never got real bad. The throat was another issue. The magic mouth wash helped. There are different ways they can make it. The last I had was alot more helpful. It had more lidocaine. I also developed thrush that made it more painful. After a few days of antibiotics my throat was better. I finished treatment Nov.16 and my throat got a little better every day. I still have some soreness but can eat hamburgers again. It does get better. Hang in there but be sure the onc checks for thrush. I wish you all the best. Judy

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I was treated with 35 radiation treatments to my chest. I experienced the redness and slight burning to the skin which was tolerable with a sample product my radiologist gave me, Aquaphor. I too, experienced the esophogeal swelling and difficulty with swallowing. Very frustrating. I also developed a bad case of the hiccups. I just recently had my throat scoped and they did find narrowing of the esophogus and opened it up a bit which helped. The Aquaphor really helped my skin. God bless.

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I read Inspire daily but have only posted once as I didn't feel that I have anything positive to contribute.My husband had 5 radiation treatments last Sep. to his spine through his chest and he ended up with a bad burn on his back. We ended up using pawpaw ointment on it and this helped it heal. He also had 10 radiation treatments in Dec. for a met on his spine and didn't have a burn but did have a very sore throat for about 2 wks. I hope Dino is feeling better soon. Best wishes to you both. Kano

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My oncologist gave me lots of samples of Aquaphor, but I was very lucky ... had 25 treatments and very little burn.
LadyLoess

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I am so sorry about the pain and am surprised the doc didn't perscribe something asap. I only experienced "sunburn" from my radiation, possibly because I used lotions right away. Of all the lotions I used, I'd pull out the Aquaphor if I had scabs though.

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BIA creme was given to me the first day I had a radiation treatment. I was getting radiation for lung cancer from the front it burned through to my back the rad. nurse told me to apply it to my back I did daily. Very little trouble I pealed like with a sun burn. Radiation burns your insides like sunburn to. The magic Mouthwash is common for chemo and another one for radiation. "I guess at least they prescribed me a compound made up by the pharmacists. The swallowing will get easier just stick with liquids for a while. Drink health shakes or ensure. My legs got severe cramps after the radiation stopped and I couldn't walk when I hung my legs down without limping for one week or so I just made my self keep walking and the pain went away thank goodness. It felt like a "charley horse". Also broke out with rash on hands after radiation was stopped. Yes they did tell me the radiation would keep working for about a month or so that is why they can't test you again to quickly and up more radiation exposure. All is okay now though and it at least shrunk my tumor half of the way.

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My mom had severe esphagitis from radiation. She couldn't swallow bc of the pain and was scared of getting hooked on morphine. The radiation onc explained that she should manage her pain with the meds so she could eat and maintain her weight. She took the morphine as prescribed and was able to tolerate drinkin/eating and then we weaned the morphine as it healed. In our case morphine and protein shakes kept her from losing no more than just a few pounds!

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Thanks everyone for your advice. I took Dino back to the radiologist's office and the nurse gave us proper dressings for his back (you cannot get these at Walgreens), Aquaphor and a liquid soaking fluid that soothes the pain and itch. It is getting better.
One of you asked me what kind of radiation he was getting. I am ashamed to say I don't know the answer to that question! I've been trying to research everything I can about this disease but did not know there were different types of radiation. I have a long way to go and I hope I have the time to get there.

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I am very shocked to hear of the skin reactions. The esophagitis is to be expected. I would not be worried about the skin, but would question the treatment. We see very few reactions when treating patients and have them put Aloe (pure - nothing with all those additives) on from the first day of treatment. As far as the "Magic Mouthwash" it is a mixture made by the pharmacist:
Benedryl Elixir 30cc
Kaopectate 150cc
Viscous Lidocaine 100cc
Normal Saline 20cc
Total - 300cc
We tell patients to use 10cc and "Swish and Swallo" every 2 hours as needed.

Hope this helps.

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its so suprising that your doc isnt on top of this.
i dont claim to know what will work, only what has worked for others.
My 1st question is are you sure its not shingles? I dont know much about it but heard of other C-patients getting it.

I have kept some pieces of advice from this site on hand and put them together. This being one as it is asked about so many times in regards to the esophogitis. if you go to the top of the inspire page on the right hand side under pic of dude, there is a search box and put in your key words.
My appologies that this gets long... I went thru same stuff. Everyone that I have talked with about radiation has had different reactions, since we are all different, so dont freak on my description (my pain started around my 18th radiation session and I still had 17 more to go, it wasnt easy but i got thru it).
I was given the alow vera from the get go. Cant believe you werent given it. I didnt get a rash so much, but I had burns quite bad on the outside that were raw/open and did itch and get irritated. I was given SSD (1% Silver Sulfadiazine Cream). I eventually found a nurse that shared that they had these gel type gauze pads to put over them, that stay in place so clothes dont rub on the wound and the gauze doesnt stick. You just go in the shower and its gel disolves and the gauze comes off. (I turned my back to direct hit of shower and let water come over my shoulder) I used these for when I had a special need to keep the gauze in place. Otherwise, they gave me vaseline gauze, that sounds opposite of what you want, but it was sooo soothing. I then taped regular gauze over it to keep vaseline from getting on my clothes, and I cut the necks out of some shirts so the seams didnt rub on it.
I had a friend in my cancer support group that ordered online, a blanket to help with the radiation burns, and as crazy as it sounds, it worked for her, as she used it everyday during treatmt.
For the Esophogitis I did the magic mouthwash for a while, which numbed like a dental topical (i think with lanicain), but it affected the taste of stuff so asked radiologist for another alternative.
I then did a liquid Hydrocodone, which tasted like shampoo... aweful but effective.
I found that "Carafate" was my saving grace. My radiologist gave me the perscript. You have to time it for you meals (i think 20 min before you eat), as the stuff coats the throat to keep the food going down from 'ripping' the 'sunburn scab' off. And of course you want the 'scab' to stay on as thats the healing. I'd take it, then get my food ready to sync up time wise, and if it was really bad I did take pain meds (hydrocodone), but that would be if I hadnt finished my meal and had rubbed off the carafate coating or the mouthwash. (there has been mention on this website of one other drug but i cant remember and I didnt try) I have also heard of swallowing aloe vera juice.
Another tip - I went to 4 small meals per day, so I could keep up my calories. The carafate/painkiller lasted for small amt of time unfortunately for me, so eat the tougher food to get down first.
Every bite must either be cut up/mashed to the extreme or chew chew chew (time consuming but worth it).
I cried a bit, but kept up my mantra "I am tough as nails, tough as nails!"
This probably sounds crazy, but I watched HGTV since it involved my mind and distracted me from the pain while eating.
my throat was so burnt I couldnt do cold stuff after awhile, and then couldnt do even water. I couldnt do milkshakes or smoothies since they were too cold. I could only drink fruit nectar (Kern's- peach was favorite), ensure (boost, slim fast,etc- these arent as good for you as they are full of sugar, but do in a pinch to keep up calories/nutrients and I put over ice cubes as a night cap before bedtime and pretend it was kaluha) grapes were awesome, canned peaches in heavy syrup (my sugar treat I would eat last, very soothing), tapioca/pudding- all with the idea to keep dehydrated. you will just have to see what works for you. (for some reason i couldnt do applesauce or mashed potatoes. it was like sandpaper - crazy. While I know many people can eat the stuff. There is also a product called "thickit" that you add to drink like gatorade (which is key for electrolytes) and it makes it thicker.
Food Donts (you can try these out, but be forwarned): no tomatoe based foods, no spicy, no citrus (i missed my orange juice, but did Dole fruit bars in small bites - raspberry is yummy), no raw veggies (I got a broccoli florrette stuck in throat long time and couldnt cough it out - it sucked)
Since I was doing radiation at the time, I kept up my protein intake and usually meant that was what I ate first since its tough to get it puree'd and still like it. cottage cheese, yogurt, soups/broth,
Keep trying stuff. Key idea to keep up your 1)hydration, 2)calories, and 3)protein to heal (veggie juices have protein in them too).
Once I finished radiation and my 1st line of chemo, I went to a healthier diet, in that I reduced sugar consumption, though I love chocolate. I just up'ed my fruit to cure my sugar habit. I have protein earlier in the day to have energy to get thru day. I dont have much if any dairy. (The China Study - bk. Eat raw produce, no dairy, and roughly 10-15% protein)
I had burns quite bad on the outside that were raw/open. I eventually found a nurse that shared that they had these gel type gauze pads to put over them, that stay in place so clothes dont rub on the wound and the gauze doesnt stick. You just go in the shower and its gel disolves and the gauze comes off. (I turned my back to direct hit of shower and let water come over my shoulder) I used these for when I had a special need to keep the gauze in place. Otherwise, they gave vaseline gauze, that sounds opposite of what you want, but it was sooo soothing. I then taped regular gauze over it to keep vaseline from getting on my clothes, and I cut the necks out of some shirts so the seams didnt rub on it.
I had a friend in my cancer support group that ordered online, a blanket to help with the radiation burns, and as crazy as it sounds, it worked for her.
As for what helped my psyche or spiritual self - a book called Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping. I did a workshop by local teacher, and it shifted my body energy vibration. People to this day still talk about how different I was when I came back from it.
I attend my cancer support group ea week and have made great friends and we have many laughs and much support thru the tough times.
Restorative/gentle Yoga to keep my mobility and work on breathing. This has done wonders for my anxiety.
Hope this helps.
oh - one more thing to add. I really did have a hard time drinking enough fluid - so when I mentioned it to my radiologist, he told me to go in on fridays before the weekend to get a IV of fluids. I would go in, take a nap while hooked up to my "energy juice", and walk out of there a different woman. It really did help make me feel better. I still ask for fluids for an extra bump in energy, say if I am taking a trip or under stress. Fluids are #1.
Food was really important to me, since I am small to begin with and if I got weak, I really really didnt feel well. So... tears or not, hunger or not, taste or not, small nausea... I still made myself eat - I kept to a schedule. A good thick home made chicken noodle soup was usually where I would start if feelin like nothing would work, and that 1st 1/2 cup would help settle the tummy, to then have something else.
Just keep on trying.
Also... know that if it gets so bad, the radiologist will work with you. They dont force pain, or want you to loose soo much weight that you cant function. I had a friend that had the salivary gland radiated, and eventually went to a feeding tube. Its not that bad, if the radiation can actually get completed - which is key.
I didnt think I'd finish, and I freaked at times, but I got thru all sessions. I really believe that the radiation is what put me in remission (all tumors disappeared) for as long as I was and all my mets that I had in lymph nodes have not come back.
I wish you the best >^..^<


another post said:
Don't take Prilosec but check into this

Prilosec is in a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. These drugs decrease stomach acid...and it is the common medical fallacy that if a person has heartburn it is due to "too much" stomach acid. But actually in most cases the reverse is true. It is due to too little stomach acid.
I developed horrible acid reflux during/after treatment that was so bad I had to sleep in an almost upright position. Docs put me on both Prilosec (eventually at 4 times the highest recommended dose!!) and Reglin. (Reglin had been recently black boxed by the FDA but of course they didn't pass along that info probably b/c they didn't know. I found out and stopped it immediately)
Long story short - I kept getting worse, never better.
I stumbled across raw apple cider vinegar. 1 - 2 tablespoons or so in a little water (or in salad dressing, etc), once or twice each day.
Worked like a charm. After about 2-3 weeks, my heartburn was completely gone.
ACV helps open the lower esophageal sphincter muscle that allows food to empty into the stomach. It also helps rebuild normal bacteria and acidity in the stomach usually lacking in most people with heartburn. As we age, both of these are common issues.
Try this simple solution before resorting to medications that cause loss of calcium and osteoporosis like prilosec.

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There is a new focused radiation treatment that does not have such serious side effects and damage to adjoining tissues. It's a proton-based method. Some of the folks on this web site have had it and recommend it.

You have to search for the right treatment center and demand the best treatment.

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After reading how many people suffered radiation burn to the chest I am amazed that I had no problem. I had 35 radiation tx for 3B NSCLC. in 2003. I did suffer greatly with esophagitis from the radiation. Lost nearly 40 lbs die to inability to swallow even my own saliva. I have been on Nexium since then.
Today, I have to be careful eating red meat. I love steak so I cut it into small bites, chew slowly and swallow, then take a sip of water or sweet tea.

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My wife Pat had all the nasty chemo's for the past year and the tumor still grew. We asked her ONC to refer Pat to the
south West Washington Medical Center for Cyber Knife surgery. She had the first ONC visit last Tuesday and
her treatments will start late Feb or March. It seems they are busy with patient's for this type radiation.
It will be 4 to 5 treatments a day apart.

This is directed just on the tumor none of the surrounding area will be effected . The may have to place
fudical's < gold markers> but the radiation ONC is not sure yet.
We did not want her to have the standard radiation like is being discussed in this post.

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