I’m two weeks post Chemoradiation for Anal Cancer. Everything seemed to me going so well, my radiation burns are healing better than expected and I’m gaining strength everyday. A couple of days ago I found a swollen lymph node (confirmed by my GP) in my groin. My GP didn’t seem unduly worried saying it’s probably due to the treatment I’ve just had. Thing is I’ve now found a second smaller swelling on the other side. I’m terrified my cancer is spreading! I’ve notified by Colorectal Team who said they would inform my Oncologist.
I’m so worried right now.
Hi Flyguy , I replied to your post earlier but it seems to have disappeared!! Do you have an appointment scheduled with your oncologist? I saw my oncologist a couple of weeks following my last treatment but I’m very aware that things have changed greatly post pandemic! If you’ve not got an appointment soon I’d give your oncologists secretary a call & ask could you be seen as I think a physical examination by him/her will be the only thing that will put your mind at rest properly. Pelvic radiotherapy kicks off a whole load of inflammation right through the pelvic area & sometimes beyond so this may be the issue with these swollen nodes but as I said it’s always best to get these things checked by your oncologist. I had all kinds of worrying aches & pains following the radiotherapy & completely understand how worrying this can be, you’re permanently on high alert aren’t you? Please keep us updated on how you get on.
Hi Nicola, thanks for your reply. After my treatment ended my Colorectal team told me the Oncologist would see me around 6 weeks post treatment to allow for any inflammation to die down. The reason being he wanted to do a thorough digital examination and needed the rectum to return to as normal a state as possible. When I spoke tongue nurse yesterday she told me she would email the oncologist and let him know of my concerns. I’ve just called them again this morning to tell them I’ve found a couple of other smaller lumps. I’m currently awaiting a call back. I’ll push for a face to face when they call.
It's always a surge of terror when we find something that *might* indicate more cancer, but in almost all cases, at the stage where you are now, it's just your outraged body pushing back against all the treatment. Good for you for reporting it.
I'm a little surprised that your oncologist is going in at the 6 weeks mark! I wasn't remotely in a place to be able to endure that so soon after treatment. But your progress is admirable.
It'll be months before your body really starts to settle down. Finding the balance between being aware of changes happening, and letting the chemo and rads do their thing and gobble up all those cancer cells, is such an individual journey. Could the swollen nodes be cancer? Yes. But chances are it's not.
You've tipped the odds vastly in your favor by undergoing the treatment. Put your trust in it for the time being, and do whatever calming and balancing exercises work best for you.
Sometimes that means some pharmaceutical help. Don't hesitate to ask for it if your anxiety becomes difficult to manage.
Hi Suz, thanks for reaching out. I think I just need to hear that swollen lymph nodes aren’t always a sign that the cancer is spreading. Everything I read online tells me swollen lymph nodes are harbingers of doom.
My positivity has taken a huge knock and I’m quite frankly scared sh**less! All through my treatment I was told how well I was doing. I haven’t needed as much as a paracetamol and my recovery seemed to be going so well. It’s just been two weeks since my treatment ended and my radiation burns have almost disappeared. This is such a blow for me!
Hi again Flyguy , hopefully you’ll get a call back very soon. I suffered different forms of pelvic inflammation for quite some time after my treatment had finished & like you I got away with quite mild side effects compared to some & I healed externally at least pretty quickly after those 2 weeks post treatment but I would get what I can only explain as a flare of what felt like internal inflammation, difficulty going to the loo which at first I thought was constipation but now realise it was one of these inflammatory flares, sometimes it would affect my digestion too, I could eat something one day & I’d be fine the next it would cause me all kinds of bloating, gas, IBS type symptoms. It really is a steep learning curve. I really hope that this is found to be simply inflammation related for you too, the anxiety is real isn’t it?
Hi Nicola, The anxiety is 100% for sure. I got a call back an hour ago from my lovely colorectal nurse Liz, My oncologist is on holiday but another oncologist is happy to take a look, unfortunately it’s not until next week. I do hope you are right and it’s simply inflammation. Will keep you posted.
Hi Flyguy, can I just say that you are very early post treatment and I believe the treatment stays in your body for a few more weeks yet still fighting the last of the cancer cells. It’s alway good to just get it checked to at least put your mind in a better place. Even when those who are 12 weeks post treatment who show lumps can be told that treatment is still going ahead inside the body. It does seem early to have your appointment at only six weeks post treatment but suppose different hospitals do different procedures. Many of us get blips during our post recovery and agree the slightest thing that feels different sends us in a spin. My oncologist always agrees to see me when I’ve had things happen and four months ago (I’m 26 months post treatment) I had a lump come up and it’s terrifying but turned out to be nothing but a reaction to the radiation on the skin a bit like scar tissue like a pea. They cut it off and now everything looks normal. All the best with your following recovery and I don’t want to disregard your worries but bet it turns out fine.
First of all, I am so happy that you are doing so well after treatment, that really is brilliant news. And I would say that for me, two weeks after treatment everything in the triangle was sore, swollen, without skin and inflamed. So maybe your side effects are a bit more than you realised, but I am glad that the oncologist is seeing you early and hopefully he will put your mind to rest. It really is a rollercoaster, isn't it? The fear never goes but you do eventually learn to live with it and kick it back in its box.
Please let us know how you get on.