migraine-type headaches

Mike1969 Member Posts: 2 Member
edited January 19 in Head and Neck Cancer #1

Hi all. I finished my treatment about 12 years ago for Stage-4 oropharyngeal cancer (HPV16), and have few long-term side effects. Lucky boy, as my wife says. I had my treatment in Tokyo University Hospital, where they gave me 24/7 chemo (three types, second round cut short after anaphylactic shock), and then 35 doses of IMRT. They couldn't operate because the main tumour was too embedded in the back of my throat (how didn't I notice?). Although I can do pretty much everything I want nowadays health-wise, every January and February since returning to the UK some years ago, I get awful headaches. The sides of my head ache, and can be sore to the touch, and inside the head I'm very foggy and fatigued. Plus my face looks like it's being weighed down, my eyes seem to droop and the bags are immense. I've always had cramps at the base of my neck, where the radiation escaped, and this too seems worse at such times. These symptoms definitely correlate with damp/cloudy weather (and I live in the second wettest city in the UK...), and sometimes I get migraine-like auras. Some things do help - 7/8 hours sleep a night, regular exercise, eating well, staying off the booze (-ish). I've tried acupuncture, which worked miracles for my saliva after radiation. It also seems to help with the headaches for some days afterwards, although it completely knocks me out the day I have it. I wanted to ask if others who are years out of treatment get such headaches, and whether they've found things that work for them? I realise this is a small problem compared to the ones that many of you are now facing, but I hope you won't mind my asking. I'm an academic, so the brain not functioning means I'm like a runner with a twisted ankle - not much use and rather whingy. Ta, Mike


  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 1,966 Member

    Well, Mike, welcome to the CSN H&N forum. I too have had loads of chemo but have never had any headaches or migraines. In fact though all my life it is rare when I get a headache and then it is only mild. I also had extra chemo in the hospital 24 hours a day for a week, actually 5 days straight then a gap in between of probably several weeks and then another week of 24 hour a day chemo. This was to shrink my throat tumor before the start of my regular treatment of 35 radiation treatments with chemo beginning, middle, and at the end. All the chemicals they ran through me it's a wonder that stuff doesn't kill you. Anyway I did a little research and if yo do an internet search with the phrase "can chemo cause migraine headaches years later" you will find a lot of info to sort through and yes people have had trouble with headaches and other things they attribute to chemotherapy treatment. As an example here's a posting from CSN--

    And here is an article from MD Anderson Cancer Center--

    Migraine headaches in cancer patients: How to prevent and treat them

    Here is also a very good article on headaches from Cancer.net--

    Also one last thing don't take for granted that your headaches are from previous treatment, you may want to get to your doctor and be checked because ther may be something else causing it even up to the possiblility of a brain tumor. I am not trying to alarm you just want you to be aware of the possibilities.

    Like I said use the search phrase you will see plenty of info.

    Wishing You the Best

    Take Care God Bless-Russ

  • Mike1969
    Mike1969 Member Posts: 2 Member

    Hi Russ, many thanks for all this! I've had a read through and this does confirm a lot of what I thought/had read elsewhere. I'll have more of a search over the weekend. And no problem of course about the suggestion - I have already booked an appointment with my doctor for next week, so I can talk more about it then.