Long-term radiation damage for throat cancer

Hi everyone, this is a follow up to my first threaed "Squamous Cell Carcinoma - brother in law who is mentally handicapped diagnosed."

I haven't posted much since joining because thing shave been a whirl wind of activity. We found out that Bobbie's cancer has spread further down his throat to right above his lungs. They are concerned with the aggressiness of the cancer and recommended one of the strongest chemo drugs out there (I will find out more Monday on which ones) to attack it, they did say it has a possible side affect of kidney damage. After a couple of these chemo treatments they are going to bring in radiation therapy. I have heard that Radiation can cause long-term damage with scar tissue. What is the likelihood of this type of damage being done to the wind pipe, food tube, and voicebox. Could he go through all this treatment only to fidn at the end that he will always have to have a trech, could have trouble eating and lose his voice?

They are also saying that the odds are high that this cancer will be back in one - two years. :(


  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,723 Member
    not sure

    Some things may change if he goes through chemo and radiation treatments. How bad and how permanent is dependant on the dosage of the chemo, how close the radiation gets to an area and the patients tolerance to each. The doctors and nurses will monitor the patients blood work weekly to avoid surprises. Also, they will visible monitor the patient for well being, nausea, nutrition, hydration and a host of other things.

    Provided he has a good team of doctors and a good plan the treatments should be uneventful for the most part (mine were).

    Good luck and God bless,

  • ToBeGolden
    ToBeGolden Member Posts: 695
    tracheotomy vs laryngectomy
    I am not the correct term police. But a tracheotomy is (by definition) a temporary breathing tube. A laryngectomy is a permanent tube. I bring up the distinction only to help you search this message board and the rest of the web.

    I had both. My tumor had grown large enough to compromise my breathing. I got an almost emergency tracheotomy (about 2 days after my ENT visit). The tracheotomy was a relatively short (hour or two) surgery as I remember. It was followed by a couple of days in the ICU. The tumor was biopsied at the time of the tracheotomy.

    About two weeks later, I had a total laryngectomy. This is the removal of the vocal cords. For me, it was a seven-hour surgery. The length of the surgery is because the esophagus (tube between the mouth and the stomach) has to be reconstructed from muscle taken from the shoulder. I am told by the surgeon that the operation is not particularly dangerous, but it is tiring since the micro-circulation must be moved from the shoulder to the throat. I was in the ICU for 10 days. Went home directly from the ICU both times.

    Having made this distinction, you will find that there are three methods to restore speech after a laryngectomy: esophageal speech, electrolarynx, and a voice prosthesis. (The voice prosthesis is often referred to as a TEP, for tracheal-esophageal puncture.) There is a lot written on these boards and on the more special boards for laryngectomees about voice restoration. I use all three methods (not at the same time).

    Serviceable speech will likely be restored not immediately, but within a couple of months.

    I am happy to tell you that the recovery after both operations was NOT painful at all.

    I sincerely hope Bobbie does not need a laryngectomy. But if he does, it is not the end of the world. It's just a bump in the road. Take it from somebody who speaks without vocal cords. Rick.
  • Greend
    Greend Member Posts: 678
    Don't know all the facts but the way I see it is 1) take the treatments and hope they work with minimal side effects or 2) don't take them and possibly/probably sign up for Hospice.

    The radiation can and will do damage, that's what it is designed to do however thousands of us live (key word being LIVE) with it. I'm a sixteen year survivor with a peg tube and a voice that sounds like crap however I have been here for the weddings of my kids and the births of my grandchildren.

    I hope ya'll (southern for "you guys") fight and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • fisrpotpe
    fisrpotpe Member Posts: 1,349 Member
    i must say being a very long term survivor twice i have to share that the new radiation equipment that they are using over the last 3 plus years (what i know as tomotherapy) has changed the amount of radiation side effects. be aware there are many treatment locations that do not have the latest and best. this equipment allows the beam of radiation to pin point to the cancer vs just giving a broad area like i had and dennis has had.

    everyone reacts differently to any radiation or chemo so it's hard to say what the side effects will be. over the years i have come to the conclusion that the most likely problem with dry mouth. some have extreme dry mouth and some have a slight dry mouth. i would bet most everyone has something less that their old normal wetness.

    my best guess is they will treat with chemo called cisplatin, i had this drug and know of many right now getting it. either way what ever chemo i believe with all my heart the most important rule of thumb with chemo is "IV FLUIDS, LOTS OF THEM, AND WHEN YOU THINK YOU OR THEY THINK YOU HAVE ENOUGH... DEMAND MORE". fluids help push the chemo thru the system and rinse the kidneys. when they do cisplatin i suggest IV Fluids one the THIRD DAY after chemo for certain. cisplatin normally hits the body hard starting on day three and most certainly on day four. my thought is to get a head start and be proactive with fluids ahead of problems rather than being reactive when the problems start.

    risk/reward is the question, i believe in taking the biggest hit of treatment to kill cancer and deal with side effects down the road vs doing a much less treatment and increasing the risk of having to go thru the war and fighting again.

    prayers for wisdom being sent your way


    by the way i am against odds other than two odds, one you survive and two you do not survive. your survive odds will increase with a positive mental attitude for fighter and all those around the fighters.