Radiation side effect vocal cord paralysis

Well, I guess the other shoe has dropped. We are 3 years post treatment - chemoradiation for Stage 4 nasopharyngeal tumor. The cancer is gone but 3 years post treatment there is nerve damage from the radiation resulting in vocal cord paralysis. At first it was just one side but now the other side is becoming affected. It’s now compromising my husband’s ability to breathe. It looks like we are headed to a permanent tracheostomy. Would like to hear from others with permanent tracheostomies regarding adjustment, quality of life. My husband is a practicing surgeon and chief medical officer of a cancer center (ironic huh?). He is very depressed believing it is the end of his career. He is 59.


  • wbcgaruss
    wbcgaruss Member Posts: 2,106 Member
    Does He or his Colleagues

    Have access to major teaching or other major hospitals, I would think they would and could possibly find an answer one way or another for him or possibly a solution. Try to Get the folks he works with in full research and contact mode with other doctors and above all specialists. (Never Ever Give Up) God Bless

  • caregiver wife
    caregiver wife Member Posts: 234
    treatment options and coping

    Found a VERY interesting short read:


    Best wishes to both of you,


  • Barbaraek
    Barbaraek Member Posts: 626

    So far we’ve visited two specialists in NYC and are driving to Cleveland Clinic tomorrow. Trying to make the best choice from two crappy options: 1) a tracheostomy or 2) a cordotomy with arytenoidectomy. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Trying to balance breathing, speaking, swallowing. Seems like if you prioritize one the other two suffer. Likelihood of bilateral vocal cord paralysis resolving is nil. This is all due to radiation treatment done 3 years ago. Not wasting time asking “why”, but just trying to move forward. Focusing on the fact that my husband’s latest scans are still NED. Right now leaning slightly to the trach option. Would love to hear from any trach folks about your experience and quality of life... Bilateral vocal cord paralysis resulting from radiation is very rare. I knew I married 1 in a million!