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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Experiencing pain at the center back and breathlessness

I have Stage 4 breast cancer for 3 years and was on a research study of Avastin and Letrozole. I also took Zometa as the cancer has metastacized into my hips and rib. Some of this medication caused me to have an increase in blood pressure and I was put on 4 BP drugs. I began spilling protein in my urine last summer....and in the fall my oncologist took me off the study. He gave me time to be off but I was still taking three of the BP drugs. My ankles swell like Clydesdales. In Jan I was put on Tamoxifen. The past few weeks I have still have the swelling in my ankles, still peeing like a racehorse, I have no energy, sharp pain that comes and goes in the center of my mid back (higher then the lower muscle strain area - had a urinary culture yesterday to rule out a UTI) and shortness of breath. My doctor is away for a couple weeks so I would like some direction. Thank you so much for your time
Thu, 27 Oct 2016
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Oncologist 's  Response
Hello. There are some important things that have to be assessed here:

First of all, we have to know if one of the BP medications is a diuretic (A medicine given for high blood pressure that controls BP by making you urinate more. Examples are: (Chlorothiazide (Diuril) Chlorthalidone Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide)IndapamideMetolazone Bumetanide (Bumex)Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)Furosemide (Lasix)Torsemide (Demadex)AmilorideEplerenone (Inspra) Spironolactone (Aldactone) Triamterene (Dyrenium). Any of these may be the cause of your frequent urination.

It is important to know if the swelling of your ankles is in one ankle and if the shortness of breath was abrupt (did it start suddenly and are you experiencing chest pain) because tamoxifen use is associated to blood clots that can appear in your inferior extremities and travel to the lung blood vessels. This needs medical assessment right away.

If this swelling is in both ankles and has been progressive (for many weeks and months) and your shortness of breath has gotten worse over months, then this can be a heart issue. In a simpler way, because the heart is what pumps the blood around the body, when it is not able to do so, fluid accumulates in your inferior extremities (swollen ankles) and lungs (shortness of breath). Persistent high blood pressure can be a cause of the heart not being able to work properly. I recommend a cardiology consultation and continue with high blood pressure medications until you are seen by the cardiologist.
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