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squamous cell carcinoma question

lkinzer's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2005

I was diagnosed with this type of cancer (a spot on the very base of my tongue and have had chemo, then flap surgery on my neck and I have just completed radiation treatment. I have done pretty good emotionally till lately. I am so depressed it scares me. Since radiation I have lost my voice but was told it will return. Has anyone else experienced loosing their voice and if so how long does it take to come back. Not having any taste buds is bad also. Do they return pretty soon? I'd appreciate anyone's helpful advise. Thanks, Lynda

Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

Hi Lynda, Sorry you had to go thru all that. It is normal to feel depressed, the trick is not to stay depressed. If depression doesn't seem to go away, seek help. Usually when I am in radiation all food tastes like paper; taste will return slowly, maybe 2-3 months. It is important that you eat and if you do not like regular food now, there is Boost, a nutritious drink, also Ensure. Don't know about the voice, haven't lost mine during treatment. Have you checked the survivors chat room? It helps when you are feeling down and you could find someone else going through the same things as you are.
Best wishes for a fast recovery

ballonk's picture
Posts: 47
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Lynda: Sorry you're having a difficult time right now. I've had two bouts with squamous cell carcinoma since 2001 (first time on my tongue and second time in my left neck) and from what my doctor tells me - depression is very common with cancer patients. While I'm not a big fan of taking medication, I did take some anti-depression medication for about 6 months following each surgery - which helped get me "over the hump" so to speak.

After my second surgery and radiation treatments, my voice got so weak and although I didn't lose it completely - talking became difficult and challenging. I also completely lost my taste during radiation but most of that came back within 6-8 months after radiation was completed. My mouth became very sensitive after radiation and is still sensitive to spicy foods and tomato-based products. My voice came back stronger and that also took about 6 months after radiation was completed. It's never returned to normal (like it was before the second surgery and radiation) and I still get "croaky" after talking for a while and my singing sounds awful - but in the overall scheme of things - I'm just fine with my progress.

You can find a lot of support here at the ACS web link. It does help to exchange thoughts and ideas with others who are in a similar situation as you. I hope you are feeling better soon. Kathy

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2005

hi lynda, I'm 27 and I just went through the same thing. chemo with radiation and I lost my voice for about 3 monthes but its just about normal now, its almost 6 monthes since my last radiation treatment now. after radiation my tongue was not healing correctly or fast enough so I went through hyperbaric oxygen therapy for 10 weeks. its a big commitment because its 5 days per week, but the results have been amazing for me. I am now able to eat almost everything I could before, my voice is almost normal, most of my taste is back, and a lot of the damage from radiation is healing sooner than everyone thought, and my tongue was in real bad shape (swollen and grey all over with almost no movement). the oxygen therapy might sound a little strange at first but for me it was well worth it and from what I understand, insurance companies are starting to cover it. if you would like to hear more about it just ask I'd be happy to talk with you about it, or google it, theres a lot out there. good luck, it will get better.

Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

hi umass,
I also went to hyperbaric chamber for 40 weeks before and after oral surgery (radiation had damaged my teeth) and it worked great for me. You are right about insurance, mine covered it. TereB

tubes's picture
Posts: 13
Joined: Oct 2005

Hi Terre,
My name is Ananth Shenoy and am a stage 4 cancer of the larynx survivor and am considered one of the medical mysteries who has survived against all odds - do read my web page if you have the time. I need to ask a favour of you and hopefully you should be able to give me your opinion on the Hyper baric treatment that you went in for. How succesful do you feel it was? Do you think it helped heal things faster? What do you recommned - that people do go in for this treatment as in any case there are no side effects. I had 45 odd sittings and vouch for the same, but almost all the doctors here in our Country, India have a very different idea on the benefits of this treatment and I would like to prove them wrong by giving them live examples who have been through and benefitted from the treatment. We have only one chamber in New Delhi or rather all over India and since I am one of the brand ambassadors for the cancer society of India, we are putting together these success stories for funding to set up more chambers all over the country.
I look forward to hearing from you,
With kind regards,
Ananth (tubes)

Posts: 15
Joined: Jul 2005

My squamous cell carcinoma was diagnosed 9/04. Surgery, radiation, and chemo. I also became depressed, and started seeing a counselor for awhile. My cancer was tonsil, so different surgery and no impact on voice. My radiation did totally, but only temporarily, eliminate my taste. But I had a feeding tube, so I just pumped in as many calories as I could until taste did return. The taste return was slow at first, but I had about 95% of all tastes back after 3 months after last radiation treatment. In my local area, Columbus, OH, we have a head and neck survivor's group that meets monthly. I have found it very good for support as well as information. Is there one available in your area? (Your oncologist(s) should know...)

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