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Myeloma Side Effect- Radiation-Induced Fibrosis

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Radiation-induced fibrosis (RIF) may be reversible… the sooner you begin therapies to reduce your (MM side effect) radiation damage the better…

Let me set the stage. I am a long-term multiple myeloma (MM) survivor who underwent radiation therapy three times during my several years of conventional oncologic therapies from ’94-’97. Local radiation therapy helped me short-term but created the multiple myeloma side effect called radiation-induced fibrosis.

The first radiation administration was to sanitize the area of my original surgically-removed plasmacytoma, the second was to irradiate MM lesions forming in my iliac crest and the third radiation session was to irradiate the MM lesion that was growing at the site that had been irradiated the year before.

Long story short, I live with nerve, skin and muscle damage of various types as a result of my radiation therapies.

As the study linked and excerpted below points out:

  • Oncology generally follows a “maximum tolerable dose” philosophy- forget about “first do no harm-“
  • Though radiation will cause fibrosis aka scarring, it may be possible to reverse this damage-
  • The sooner the patient begins therapies to reverse his/her radiation damage the better-

The studies linked and excerpted below explain that:

  • The sooner radiation damage is addressed the better the chance of healing.
  • This includes pre-habilitating radiation damage with resveratrol and other antioxidants.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one of the most effective therapies for healing radiation-damage in the days and weeks after radiation has been administred.

I am both a MM survivor and MM cancer coach. For obvious reasons I have been interested in radiation-induced fibrosis and if this side-effect of radiation therapy can be reversed. I’m pretty sure that the various therapies that can heal fibrosis won’t help me after so many years have lapsed.

But I’m convinced that multiple myeloma patients either about to undergo radiation or MM patients who recently completed radiation can either reduce or eliminate their radiation damage.

Have you been diagnosed with multiple myeloma? Are you considering undergoing radiation therapy? Have you completed radiation therapy? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Multiple Myeloma Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of the late effects of radiotherapy

“There is a risk of serious complications developing after radiation treatment (radiotherapy) for cancer (late radiation tissue injury (LRTI)). These problems can be very difficult to resolve and there is some doubt as to the best approaches to treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing oxygen in a specially designed chamber. It is used as a treatment to improve oxygen supply to damaged tissue (cells within the body) and support healing…

There was some evidence that HBOT improved outcome in LRTI affecting bone and soft tissues of the head and neck, for radiation proctitis (inflammation of the lower part of the large intestine caused by radiotherapy treatment) and to prevent the development of osteoradionecrosis (bone death caused by radiotherapy treatment) following tooth extraction in an irradiated field. There was no such evidence of any important clinical effect on tissues in the nervous system…”

The melatonin immunomodulatory actions in radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy has a key role in cancer treatment in more than half of patients with cancer. The management of severe side effects of this treatment modality is a limiting factor to appropriate treatment. Immune system responses play a pivotal role in many of the early and late side effects of radiation. Moreover, immune cells have a significant role in tumor response to radiotherapy, such as angiogenesis and tumor growth. Mel as a potent antioxidant has shown appropriate immune regulatory properties that may ameliorate toxicity induced by radiation in various organs...

Moreover, anti-cancer properties of mel may increase the therapeutic ratio of radiotherapy…

It seems anti-proliferative, anti-angiogenesis, and stimulation or suppression of some immune cell responses are the main anti-tumor effects of mel that may help to improve response of the tumor to radiotherapy…”

The protective effects of Resveratrol against radiation-induced intestinal injury

“Results- Compared to the vehicle control, treatment with resveratrol improved intestinal morphology, decreased apoptosis of crypt cells, maintained cell regeneration, and ameliorated SOD2 expression and activity. Resveratrol also regulated Sirt1 and acetylated p53 expression perturbed by irradiation in the small intestine. The protective effect of resveratrol against ionizing radiation induced small intestine injury was significantly inhibited by Ex527.

Conclusion-Our results suggest that resveratrol decreases the effects of radiation on intestinal injury at least partly via activation of Sirt1.”

The Irreversibility of Radiation-Induced Fibrosis: Fact or Folklore?

“Unfortunately, the relationship between radiation dose, volume of tissue irradiated, development of complications, and tumor control is complex and not precisely defined for most normal tissues and malignancies…

Late radiation damage in most tissues is characterized by loss of parenchymal cells and excessive formation of fibrous tissue.11 For years, it was taught that radiation fibrosis is a permanent irreversible condition, but its underlying mechanism remained uncertain…

In this issue, Delanian et al29 contribute significantly to the growing body of knowledge that indicates that, indeed, radiation-induced fibrosis is at least partially reversible. They also demonstrate for the first time that long-term antifibrotic therapy will be needed to sustain benefit…

Although oncologists should be encouraged by the mounting evidence that radiation-induced fibrosis may be reversible, many questions remain unanswered…”

Oxygen in hyperbaric chamber provides relief after radiotherapy

“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can relieve self-reported symptoms and side-effects of radiotherapy against cancer in the pelvic region, a study shows. After 30-40 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, many patients experienced reductions in bleeding, urinary incontinence, and pain alike…”


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Elderly Multiple Myeloma- Supportive Care Under-utilized - PeopleBeatingCancer says 4 years ago

[…] Radiation-Induced Fibrosis & the Multiple Myeloma Survivor […]

Supportive Care Under-utilized in Elderly Multiple Myeloma - PeopleBeatingCancer says 4 years ago

[…] Radiation-Induced Fibrosis & the Multiple Myeloma Survivor […]

Gordon says 4 years ago

I am MM patient I took one cycle of chemo in 2018 in dec did not take any more ,that chemo almost kill me. Do you think HBOT will help me? at present I am not been treated I noticed I get exhausted easily.

    David Emerson says 4 years ago

    Hi Gordon,

    Several things. Your therapy plan and prognosis will depend largely on your stage and current symptoms. In other words, you have more therapy choices if your MM is relatively early stage and your symptom burden is low.

    To answer your question, yes, HBOT can help you. The real issue is if HBOT will “help” you enough to be able to manage your MM without chemotherapy of any kind.

    My guess is that if you “get exhausted easily” it may mean that your red blood cells and hemoglobin are relatively low (below normal) and that your MM cells are crowding them out. This is a typical symptom of MM.

    Another possibility- you do not have to choose all or nothing with chemotherapy. You could consider low-dose chemotherapy combined with evidence-based integrative therapies. For example curcumin has been shown to enhance the efficacy of a chemo called Revlmid.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Hang in there,

    David Emerson

Irene D says 5 years ago

I would like to share my recent experience. I was diagnosed with lymphoma in my throat in 1996. I was treated with chemo and radiation. Now 20 years later I noticed that I was having problems swallowing solid food. After several tests including endoscopies, CAT scans, biopsies, etc. it was determined that there was fibrosis from the radiation. I recently Began physical therapy including myofascial release massage therapy. I am hoping that it helps release the swallow muscles so I can enjoy food again. I wanted to share this experience so that others with the same issue do not have to go through several months of tests when it should’ve been determined sooner that it was fibrosis from radiation. I believe the sooner he PT starts, the better the results will be. 🙏

    David Emerson says 5 years ago

    Hi Irene,

    Thanks for your post. Was any of your radiation to your neck area? Mine was. I’ve been doing neck exercises for the past 5 or so years. I recommend the Shaker Exercise. Here are several videos to demonstrate.

    I have dry mouth as well.

    David Emerson

      Nicholas Ortiz says 5 years ago

      I went through 33 radiation treatments for base of tongue squamous cell carcinoma summer of 2012. I have next to no saliva. I had a recurrence in 2015 and had an 8 hour surgery to do a resection and lymph node removal on the left side of my neck. I’m starting to have cramping followed by a numb tongue which had made eating difficult. I also cannot speak properly. Doctors have me doing exercises, massage, and now trying acupuncture next week. They tried Gabapentin and Cymbalta but not seeing any change in my symptoms. This late onset of the fibrosis symptoms is so frustrating.

      I’m going to try cbd oil 1:1 too.

      Nick in Denver

        David Emerson says 5 years ago

        Hi Nck-

        My reply to your questions is going to be involved so I am going to reply to you via email.

        David Emerson

Gerald Green says 6 years ago

Hello David, thank-you for sharing the report. It’s a great start.

Gerald Green says 6 years ago

David, thanks for all that you do for the cancer community. I have survived twenty-two year high dose radiation therapy for tongue cancer and I’m a twenty year survivor of neck cancer. I have been invited to present a paper at the American Society of Clinical Oncologist (ASCO) on head and neck cancer survivor-ship.

Can you direct me to a reliable source of statistical data on long term head and neck cancer survivors that underwent radiation therapies?

aly says 6 years ago

May 6 2015, my husband was diagnosed with an inoperable stage 4 glioblastoma, they gave him 4 months. He had chemo and radiation and we changed his diet to primarily an organic plant based diet, Ojibwa tea, mushrooms, and he did well for two years. The original glioblastoma is gone but two pieces of the original glioblastoma took root someplace else and he now has six. He went through avastin and gliostene treatments and as soon as he developed four more tumors they decided they couldn’t help him anymore. I now have him on raw cannibis juice, rick simpson oil and raw juice. His body is very weak most of the night but he is stronger in the day. Do you have any ideas I don’t know?

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