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head/neck radiation

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2002

My husband had two cancerous spots removed from his tongue in September 2001. In October a swollen lymph gland in the neck turned out to be cancerous. 8-10 weeks of radiation therapy was successful (waiting for a pet scan to be sure).

Now we are dealing with getting over the radiation effects. The skin just under his chin has become enlarged - the skin is loose and it seems like there might be some water retention. Has anyone experienced something similar? We're not sure if this is a normal side effect or something that should be examined by an MD.

I would also appreciate any feedback on recovery for RT in the mouth/neck area - aside from the usual dry mouth, etc. Also, what is the time frame that others have experienced for recovery? His RT was finished around the first week of Jan. and he still has persistant dry mouth. The side effects of the salagen were bad enough that he quit taking it.

Pam Scott

Posts: 6
Joined: Oct 2000

The loose skin condition is called turkey neck.As far as I know it's cured only by surgery. It's something you get used to. The dry mout lasts forever. The severety of my dry mouth varies from day to day, bothering me mostly at night. However, the pain associated with eating does lessen with time. All these problems need to be looked at with what would have happened without the radiation treatment.
Good luck

garyr's picture
Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2002

I also had the turkey neck, but it gradualy went away. The dry mouth does not go away, but you learn to live with it.


Posts: 4
Joined: Dec 2003

With the turkey neck, none of my dress shirts can close around my neck. I could hardly care less about that. The dryness stops me from sleeping properly and about that at times I could hardly care more. How might we benefit from one another's experiences in 'learning to live with the dry mouth'. I can share my list of helpers for sleeping with a dry mouth: naps, humidifiers, moderating fluid intake so as to support moist mouth but not waking to pee, selective administration of acetylcholine agonists, and certain mouthwashes. I finished 2 months of neck radiation in early October 2003. The dryness is worse now than any previous time. Perhaps this is partly due to the cold weather and the relative dryness in the heated house. Do you find the dry mouth worst in the winter? What 'helpers' have you found?
Thank you,

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