no treatment throat cancer

Ray3000 Member Posts: 1
edited February 15 in Head and Neck Cancer #1
My mom (80 yrs old) has been diagnosed with throat cancer and she is insisting on not having any treatment. She says she feels fine now and doesnt want radiation or chemo with all the bad side effects. Anyone know what she would or could go through if she left this type of cancer untreated?


  • soccerfreaks
    soccerfreaks Member Posts: 2,788
    Yes, Ray, cancer kills. There is no other way to put it. It doesn't just stay put, either. As a head and neck cancer survivor who went through a lengthy surgery AND radiation for seven weeks AND chemotherapy within the last year and a half, I learned Friday it is likely my cancer moved to my lungs.

    Without treatment, I would expect these to be the types of results you can anticipate.

    On the other hand, at her age, your mom may be thinking that she prefers to enjoy her final years with relative quality. What she may not be calculating is the pain and suffering she is likely to experience at some point without treatment.

    The bottom line, in my opinion, is that she can seek curative treatment or, in the end, palliative treatment.

    Best wishes with this Ray.

    Take care.
  • kitaki
    kitaki Member Posts: 1
    Not treatment
    My father, 59, learned recently that he had throat cancer with metastasis to the lymph nodes, as well as cancer, possibly another metastasis, in the colon. The throat cancer in his case is very bad in and of itself, not counting the metastasis (putting it in layman's terms he was told "10 out of 10 in badness"). He was going to have treatment until they found the colon cancer. In the end, he decided that he prefers to have no treatment, enjoy what he can while he can, and deal with the worst when it comes.

    His (2nd) oncologist told him that in the end, it was his choice and the doctor's role was to do what he could for him to keep him comfortable. He was advised he was most likely to starve to death taking the throat cancer alone into consideration. Of course, metastasis could cause other things. I know my father well ... this IS the right choice for him.

    He was advised he would probably have 1 yr to 18 months if he took care of himself - drank nutrition shakes, slept well, etc. Goodness knows that could change, but its what he has right now. No one is going to lie - cancer is an ugly thing and dying from it is ugly, too. But some people choose to die from the cancer rather than be miserable from treatment for months on end only to die from cancer.

    What I can say is this: in the end, it is her choice. Do not try to scare her into treatment. She is a full grown woman and knows her own mind. I would guess that in 80 years she has probably known one or two people who had cancer, maybe even died of it. Support her decision and take the precious moments with her while you can. Someone who does not want treatment is only going to give up when they feel so bad from it, anyway. That is brutal honesty.
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    Hey Ray3000,

    Hey Ray3000,

    I agree with kitaki here:  There are multiple and valid reasons for one to choose no treatment for a cancer dx.  Support and love her and help her live her life, her way, and leave her world on her own terms, as much as possible.  She deserves that and the decision really should be hers.  As it should be yours, mine or anyone's else's.   

    We naturally want our loved ones to live on as long as possible, but also, naturally, our love for them leads us to respect their decisions in such important matters, be supportive and be there.  Best we can do in my humble opinion. 

    I'm a long term cancer thriver.  (I think that qualifies, as it's now been almost 18 years since aggressive BC, treated with surgery, chemo and rads, in that order.  I'd pretty much made the decision, about 4 years out from treatment, that I likely wouldn't go through all that again in my lifetime, if it presented itself. 

    My reasoning evolved thus:  Instead of cancer presenting itself again soon, recurring or new, I had many late side effects of the initial bc tx, which have, to a degree, complicated my years in one way or another.  I developed both kidney and heart damage, several years out from tx.  Developing heart failure, about 6 years out, leading to heart surgery, after medications failed to improve it.

    Kindey function held steady until about a year ago, but has declined more recently, with the decline in heart function.  Our bodies are amazing orchestra's, with differeing systems being dependent on the tuning and performance of neighboring systems.  We're acutally glorious creations of refinement in every area of our biology! 

    I have a few other issues, but not as life threatening as the primary ones I currently have. 

    Something suspicious was found in my neck about 8 months ago.  ENT said suspicious of cancer.  I decided to forego a bx, as I cannot undergo general anesthesia (which a bx would've required) and I also questioned and researched surival projections both  "for treatment" and "without treatment". Carefully considered my other comorbities and came up with a zero, as inspiration to seek biopsy OR tx.  We all mostly want to live and are willing to endure a lot for the opportunity. 

    I was quite the warrior, in both comical, tearful and even hilarious ways, during my trip in the BC arena.  I can reminisce and laugh an awful lot about that time in my life.  I resolved to place that experience and what I learned, as a part of my history (not drag it along as a weight) and move on to thrive and embrace life, each and every day.  And I've achieved that, for the most part.  

    Fighting is an amazing decision, often with amazing results!  And I'd change nothing about my first CA battle.  But I don't want to go through the fight again, as it makes no sense in my particular situation.  To rise to the fight again, and perhaps even win, (if it was actually possible to get that far onto the battlefield), only to emerge with a life on dialysis, or pass of heart failure, anyway...well, you can see my reasoning. There's no justification.  HF is reversible in certain acute situations, but not curable in others.  Mine is not curable.  I know people on dialysis and that's a difficult path, as well.  Most espeically, with pre-existing health issues requiring careful management, in the process.

    My sweet, loving family support my choice, for the obvious reasons.  I may be around a couple of years yet, but I want that time to be as beautiful as the blessings of my forgoing years on this planet have been, warts and all.  Maybe even moreso, even if a little bumpy on the way out. 

    This site was one of my favs, during treatment and beyond.  I met awesome people and learned amazing things.  Always grateful for eveyone here.  Sad when someone had recurrence or new cancers and new battles, and fortunate to share in some triumphs that were a thing to behold!   Sadder about losses, which sometimes left me weepy for days.  Perspective always comes with effort, followed by healing.  Thats one of the wonderful things I learned here at CSN.  Inspiration abounds here and some other sites dedicated to the same goals.  The things shared, learned and gleaned are valuable life lessons...applicable to many other of life's challenges, aside from CA.  That was my experience at least.  

    I believe you're in the right place for sharing about your Mother's decision.  I know at least a few can respond sincerely and well as I have attempted, and I hope that may help you in this difficult time of digesting your Mothers news, and that it also may help you to move on to a place of peace with her decision.


    Love, light & laughter,


  • AnotherSurvivor
    AnotherSurvivor Member Posts: 383 Member
    I think a 'No Treatment'

    I think a 'No Treatment' decision is in a different category from wholistic treatment.  My 90 year old father-in-law was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.  He immediately declared a no treatment decision.   It was discovered in the course of treating another of an endless series of old age problems.  He left the hospital for the hospice and died quietly a week later.  He lived a very robust life, but his wife and friends were gone, the grandkids were off exploring the world, his kids involved with their careers.  He did not die of the cancer, he was early stage, but the treatment regimen probably would have killed him or left him crippled and miserable.

    He committed suicide by hospice.  Probably a couple of million people in the US do it every year.  The mechanics are well designed, and seem like any other standard of care.  If you eventually go that route, find  a clean and well run one, Medicare covers much of the cost.  There will be an intake interview, make plain you all support her decision, and she makes clear her mind is functioning and she freely wants this.  'Quality of Life' seems to be a key phrase in this process.  My wife knew, I don't know how she learned, probably from co-workers.  I stress support in this decision, hospice staff tends to be very skilled, very dedicated, but not interested in wading into family weirdness.

    He was placed in a private room, and attached to a drip of morphine and dilauded.  The morphine eliminates physical pain, the dilauded calms the brain.   All food, and especially water is withheld.  Since death comes while under medical care they will probably not do an autopsy.  Plan to take turns staying with them, oral reading seems to be calming for all parties.  I was already retired, I took a couple of watches a day, including mids(10PM-8AM).  I feel honored to have done it, my worthless as shite brother-in-law was busy.  Deep family history comes to the surface.  He passed quietly in his sleep.  The end comes, this one was peaceful and comfortable.  We should all be so lucky.

  • Bogash70
    Bogash70 Member Posts: 2 Member

    I’m a throat cancer survivor since 2013. After a recent checkup in January 2023 my doctor noticed something and ordered a CT scan of my chest and throat,I’m going in soon to get the results. I’m worried. I don’t want surgery, radiation or chemotherapy just to live 10 more years. I’m not brave, but I don’t want the side effects that comes with those treatments. I’ll be 70 in 5 months and I just want a quality life until the ends. Why does that seem wrong?

  • LuvnTN
    LuvnTN Member Posts: 71 Member
    edited February 14 #7

    Personally, I think "ten more years" of life after treatment is a pretty significant reward that is worth the risk of possible treatment side-effects. Also, I don't think it has to do with being "brave"... it is just getting used to a new normal. When the oral surgeon recommended that I have all of my molars removed prior to radiation (due to poor bone structure in my upper and lower jaws.. that I inherited and have dealt with my whole life), my initial thought was the that was crazy. I created all of these difficulties in my head about what life would be like... not being able to chew food, etc. However, I would be lowering the risk of developing ORN in the future by have teeth removed prior to radiation. I went online and searched "ORN" (osteoradionecrosis).. and it didn't take but a few photos for me to decide that having no molars was better than what I saw online. Since having those teeth removed, I really don't have any of the difficulties that I imagined I would have... I just eat slower. I can eat basically anything.. except things like beef jerky, etc. Salads are slow-going.. but doable. If caught early enough, treatment options should be pretty standard. The doctors/care teams are required to inform you of the worst-case scenario... but, those extreme cases are the exception, not the rule. Saying "I'll be 70 in 5 months" is a glass-is-half-empty way of saying "I am only 69 years old"... which still, is relatively young. When my mom died, my dad was in poor physical shape at age 73. He started telling me that he wasn't going to be around much longer. He had sort of lost his will to live. Since then, he got remarried, and just turned 88 years old. He said he feels better now than he did 20 years ago.. and is trying to hang on and make it to 100. I believe it is all about having a positive mental outlook on the challenges we face. Good luck to you! Hopefully, it turns out to be nothing... but, if it is something, just pray on it.

  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 1,973 Member
    edited February 14 #8

    Hello Bogash and welcome to the CSN H&N forum, glad to have you.

    I would like to start off by saying the saying we have so often said here "It's not cancer till they say it's cancer".

    So do your best not to think cancer but just that your doctor is being cautious and proactive in your care.

    Also, I know it's easier said than done but try not to worry.

    So for now you don't know if there really is any problem.

    What was your previous treatment for throat cancer?

    Could you give us some details on previous treatment?

    Is there a reason you were in to see the doctor or was it just a basic appointment?

    Do you still see an ENT regularly, such as once a year or every 2 years?

    If you are having some sort of issue it could be the effects of previous treatments, especially if you have had radiation, over time years later this can cause problems of its own years later.

    I also was treated for throat cancer in 2013 with 35 radiation treatments and chemotherapy beginning middle and the end and in fact, some extra chemotherapy before that all started to shrink the tumor I had.

    I have had cancer of the H&N area 3 times now and if you need to I have confidence that you too can battle this more than once and win.

    I know exactly how you feel and many others on here do too but we have to overcome our first thoughts and just deal in facts not feelings or possibilities.

    But never give up and look for the positives and good things in everything.

    But hopefully, there is nothing, nothing to battle and tests are negative.

    You have to wait for the results of your tests and not assume the worst because even if it is cancer it may be very small and caught early and can be easily treated.

    So don't get yourself down and be in a down mood do your best to be positive because what you are dealing with now is unknown and in fact you may not be dealing with anything at all.

    So take heart my friend and stay positive and when you get the results you can deal with come what may, which hopefully is nothing at all.

    Wishing You the Best

    Take care, God Bless-Russ


    Even if it is cancer, with modern cancer treatment it is less invasive and very successful treatment is getting better every year.

    • Modern cancer treatment is getting better every year.
    • The best way to approach this is with an open mind and calmness.
    • Many people have worried themselves sick only to find they have no cancer, their problem was caused by something else
    • It’s not cancer till they say it’s cancer verified with scans and a biopsy.
    • Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was but this idea persists.
    • With the advanced treatments, we have today the possibility of success of the eradication of a person's cancer has a very good success rate.

  • Bogash70
    Bogash70 Member Posts: 2 Member

    Well you’re right I should be positive. I got diagnosed in 2013 with larynx cancer, but surgery and 31 radiation treatments later, I got my voice back. No more singing was the result. I have gone in you every year for checkups and have been cancer free for 10 years. This last checkup showed one of my vocal cords not moving. The ENT sent me in recently for a neck contrast so I will get the results next week and go from there. I feel great and no throat pain, so I’m thinking positive and praying more every day. I will let you guys know more next week. Take care and God bless!

  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 1,973 Member

    Bogash, from my last episode in 2019 I have paralyzed vocal cords possibly from damaged nerves during the lymph operation but I think in your case it may be the radiation and aging having an effect. Just my guess we will let it to the tests and the pros. You have a good doctor, he didn't miss a thing and is being proactive for you. Agreed on prayer and talking to our heavenly father, prayer is powerful, comforting, and assuring.

    Take Care God Bless-Russ