It’s hard to believe that it’s been over five months since I wrapped up my salvage radiation therapy (SRT) and concurrent androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). For the most part, things have been good, but two things have popped up along the way. One insignificant, the other has me wondering what the future will hold.
Where Oh Where is My Body Hair?
The first seems to be a delayed reaction of the ADT/hormone therapy which was administered nine months ago on 3 May 2022. It seems the loss of testosterone is taking a toll on my body hair.
Maybe this has been going on for a while and I just now noticed it (I mean, really, who monitors the status of their body hair on a regular basis???).
I wasn’t a very hirsute guy to begin with, but I noticed in the shower the other day that what little chest hair that I did have has been diminished by at least half to two-thirds. A little oddball patch of hair on my back right below my collar line is now pretty much gone, and let’s just say that there’s less hair in a few places further south.
Is it a big deal? Of course not. Just superficial, but I find it interesting that it appears to be happening so long after the Eligard injection. Maybe that’s normal for ADT. I’m not going to worry about it (unless my beard starts falling out, then I may be a little concerned).
The second issue has to deal with what I’ll probably imprecisely call gastrointestinal changes or perhaps a prelude to the thing I dreaded most: radiation proctitis. Whether they’re related to the radiation therapy or not, I don’t know yet. I thought radiation proctitis took longer to take root, but I could be wrong.
I haven’t changed my diet much compared to pre- and post-radiation, so I don’t think it’s diet causing these issues. (Although I did buy a bag of pistachios recently and, with hindsight, they may have aggravated them.)
Pre-radiation, I was a pretty regular guy when it came to bowel movements. Once in the morning and I was good until the next morning. Now, five months after radiation, I’m noticing that I’m having two to four bowel movements a day about a third to half of the days. Some of those extra bowel movements come on with some urgency. So far, it’s not been an issue or caused an accident, but it does raise some concern as to what it may be like a year or two from now if it is, in fact, related to the radiation therapy.
The other GI issue that has popped up is that I seem to have more intestinal gas than I used to. (And, no, it’s not related to San Diego’s wonderful Mexican cuisine!)
The thing that concerns me about being so gassy is the fact that, when I pass gas, it comes out with less effort than it used to. In fact, sometimes, it almost just slips out and I have to wonder if it’s going to be only gas that comes out, and nothing extra (fart vs. shart). My concern is about rectal control over the long term if I’m experiencing something like this now. Again, something to monitor (you know me—I’ve started a tracking spreadsheet) and discuss with the doctor.
My last PSA test was on 1 November, and we agreed to check it again in March, so I’ll figure out a date to hit the lab for the bloodwork. You may recall that post-radiation PSAs taken in September and November both came in at 0.05 ng/mL, so we’ll it will be interesting to see if it goes down, stays the same, or goes up again. Any wagers???
I should be meeting with the radiation oncologist again in May for my six-month follow-up from the last meeting.
That’s a Wrap
That’s about it for this month. You may recall that last month, I spent my birthday in Death Valley National Park. After visiting there, I headed over to Zion National Park for a short visit. You can check it out by clicking HERE.
Header Image: Canyon in Zion National Park along the Virgin River
14 thoughts on “Month 147 – Delayed Reactions?”
Hi Dan, thanks again for your honest reporting of your situation. I have been on hormone therapy for almost 6 years and also have lost all body hair but my facial hair still grows. As you say it takes some time before you notice the body hair has gone but one day you do!. Now that you’re off hormone therapy – you are aren’t you? – it will be interesting to see if it recovers as your testosterone recovers. As to your other GI problem perhaps it will settle down over time. I hope so. Thanks for the heads up about the PCF Webinar on a PSA rising after treatment. It’s the first time I have had an explanation on how radiotherapy affects the blood vessels in the treatment area and why the preferred option is prostatectomy followed by radiation therapy when prostatectomy is an option. If you are not already doing them – would pelvic floor exercises help with bowel control I wonder? Best regards Dan, Charles
Thanks. Yes, you’re correct in that I had only one six-month dose of ADT in May 2022, so it will be interesting to see if the body hair returns as you suggest.
The GI issues seem to vary in intensity day to day. I did notice that they may be diet-related, too. I like pistachios and a week or so ago, I bought a bag of them to munch on, and they seemed to aggravate the condition, so I’ll steer clear of them going forward. I’m not sure if the pelvic floor exercises will help. I’ll ask the doctor when I see him next.
I actually missed the PCF webinar, so I’ll have to go back and find it online and watch it. Good to know it was of value to you.
Yes , I noticed a lot of gas post radiation- it is settling down now though . I’m post 3 months and at .065 from .075 1 month after radiation. There is a huge delay. I was .16 prior to radiation- so making Greta headway. Had-x helps me and tums
Thanks, James! My PSA went from 0.36 pre-radiation to 0.05 post-radiation, and I’ll definitely take that drop.
I’ve used Tums to help with the gas, but haven’t tried Gas-X yet. I may give that a shot.
Yes , the Gas-X ( the no name/generic one ) and tums (2) really helped me . I have an appointment with my Radiation Oncologist (RO) back on Vancouver Island when I get back from the house in the Philippines , May 1st . Im in Bali now enjoying the weather and sights – some great hiking here ! . Had IBS last night BUT I think I had 7-8 of those super small and hot Chills in my Nasi Goring last light , and super spicy soup! wonder food experience ….but OUCH! Living life to the fullest ! HA!! My RO says I will die one day from something , but ” it wont be from Prostate Cancer , James , your 3-4, and small Prostate and other feature dont make it super high risk .” He has said that several times … I was 3-4 Gleason with a slight 3MM breach of type 3 Gleason at the margin . So far I feel fine after the operation and 22 sessions of EBRT . I had no ADT or other during my radiation as the RO said my case did not warrant it …..go figure ! I asked several doctors up in Canada about my radiation protocol – they all agreed with the prognosis and radiation treatment . they all said I will likely get a radiation IBS as well and to take tums and gas-x together .
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Loved your photos and descriptions. It is on my bucket list!
Thanks, Lisa! It’s a pretty special place. If you happen to fly into Las Vegas to get there, be sure to stop by Valley of Fire State Park, about an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas. It’s an amazing place.
Thanks Dan, I will.
On a side note,
A friends husband went through radiation and had major issues with diarrhea and other issues. From what I have heard it is pretty common. Hope it resolves itself soon. I know how debilitating that can be.
Thanks for your dedication to sharing, Dan.
I’m now 74. My prostatectomy was about 8 years ago. It took a couple of years continual monitoring and daily pelvic floor exercises before my waterworks management became reliable day and night.
It makes itself a nuisance in the hour after any physical stress and I sometimes complain to my wife about it. She says (and this is the important bit because she hasn’t had any operations or procedures)
“It catches me out too sometimes, more than it used to. Stop complaining old chap. That’s life.”
In recent months my bowels have decided once a day isn’t sufficient. I’ve now put that down to dietary changes and being a reluctant septuagenarian.
I’ll have to ‘suck it up’, but not literally. 😵💫🤢
Thanks, Al. I laughed out loud at your “suck it up, but not literally” comment. I guess, in some ways, she’s right. Too often things are out of our ability to control, so we have to adapt even though we may not want to or like to.
I hope all is well otherwise.
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Hi Dan. First of all, (very) belated Happy Birthday. Second, sorry to hear about this late flare up. Here’s hoping it’s a temporary side effect of the healing process. Your body’s been through a lot. May I ask, why would nuts cause this? Are they a gas-generating food? How about nut milks? Same thing?
Sorry for the delayed response. I was traveling a little and getting caught up. Thanks for the birthday wishes, too.
As far as nuts causing this, that was more a supposition on my part than anything else because the flare-up happened as I was munching on the bag of pistachios over several days. When I stopped eating the nuts, the flare-up subsided. I also had someone else tell me in a forum that nuts impacted him, too. So, until I can talk with my doctor, I’ll still clear of them for now.
All the best,
Hi Dan, I seem to be a member of the same exclusive club that you are participating in. I know my oncologist indicated that my bowel movements would be impacted but I didn’t appreciate in how many different ways. I still have my body hair but I never know from one day to the next as to what I will be experiencing. If I have a couple of days of good BM’s, I know they will be followed by a day or so of gas (lots of gas), diarrhea, wet farts, some constipation, followed by a return to a couple days of normal BM’s. I even had the occasional faint trace of blood when I was wiping my bum but that seems to have gone away. Annoying but I am able to live with it.
Thanks for sharing your insights. I’m not sure what happened with me. There was a week or so where BMs really flared up, and since then things have pretty much returned to something that’s quite tolerable for now. I guess we just learn to adapt.