Neck swelling/ Difficulty breathing after radiation.

Hello. My name is Violet and im here for my dad so sorry to be here:/

My dad is 61 and recently ( 8 weeks ago) completed 60gy/8 weeks of radiation/, and his epiglottis was removed due to SCC.

He did not receive chemo. His neck started to swell 2 weeks ago, but by midday the swellig was always gone.The docs said its because of the radiation. He was doing fine, until this morning. He couldnt breathe.  This morning it got so bad that he could not breathe:( We took him to the hopsital, it got so bad. 

He is going to have more tests tomorrow but until then i can not wait, im researching and all im finding is lymphedema, we never heard of it before? Does anyone know what it is? 

My question is, has anyone had anything similar after cancer treatment? I feel like tomorrow morning is so far away that i can not wait.


Any help would be very much appretiated! 


I wish everyone health and strength on their yourney!!





  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,698 Member
    edited October 2016 #2
    edema & breathing


    I am glad your Dad has completed treatments and yes many of us have had edema (neck swelling) and some issues with breathing or at least getting comfortable with breathing with a less than perfect throat.

    Many of us have gone through massage therapy where they try to reestablish the pathways for the lymphatic system in the neck, face, shoulders, chest and stomach (whole bunch of places).  It is easy to learn, there are videos available online and the massages feel great.  It does get much better with time (less swelling).

    As for the breathing, I do not know if he has a serious problem or just serious discomfort.  I use to have to get my mouth and throat all ready for bedtime (I felt like I needed more air).   This too got much better with time.

    We walk on egg shells for a while, provided there is nothing seriously wrong, he is normal and will slowly start to see improvements.


  • hlrowe
    hlrowe Member Posts: 80
    edited October 2016 #3

    It is quite common and I also got it around 8 wks post radiation. If possible, have your Dad's rad onc order massage therapy and make sure the massage therapist is certified in head and neck. Insurance should pay for it.

    Like Matt said there are massage techniques. Massage VERY lightly. It eventually goes away as your lymh nodes reroute. Sleep on two pillows to help drain the nodes while he sleeps

  • Mickg01
    Mickg01 Member Posts: 28
    Radiation after effects

    It's approaching 6 years since my Radiation therapy and I have been discharged from repeat visits. Not the same as breathing difficulties but I still regularly get a cramping if the neck muscles. I have got used to the strange looks I get when in the middle of a conversation or meeting I suddenly start looking up to strech my neck and massaging the cramped area.

    The fact is that Radiation does create some colateral damage and resulting side effects and it takes some training to figure out how to best deal with these side effects. I console myself with the thought that the non-treatment alternative would have been a much worse option.

  • VioletandDad
    VioletandDad Member Posts: 6
    edited November 2016 #5

    Thank you so much everyone, we found out that the radiation did a good deal of damage to his trachea, however we are still very very greatful!! He was given a tracheostoma for the time being,until the doctor can remove the burned area with laser. He was devastated the first and second day,it was an overninght shock that he can not speak,my heart is in pieces. But today his spirit was much better, i saw he is coming to terms with the stoma ( the doctor said its temporary) so we actually had a better day today. I saw him smiling, and thats all i needed.