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hyperfractionated radiation therapy for SCC of the Tonsil

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2008

My father was diagnosed with stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil (T3N0M0). He is 61, and never smoked a day in his life. The doctors opted to forgo the surgery, and instead are giving him radiation twice a day for 5 weeks. It will be the beginning of week 3 tomorrow, and the side effects of the radiation are finally showing themselves. He is unable to eat (but has a feeding tube), his mouth is dry, and he doesn't sleep at night because of excess mucous production. I was planning to move to London England at the end of the month, but am going to wait until I know that my father is ok.

Has anybody gone through radiation treatments twice a day and have any advice? My father has never been an emotional person, and has always been a big talker, but the past few days has said nothing when I've seen him - something which I find very hard to handle. So far from previous posts I've read that Mucinex, Amifostine, and a humidifier are all things to be explored... but anything else I should get/research??

Thank you.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2008

Hello CMULL,
I'm sorry to hear about your father. This must be a difficult time for you both. I was also diagnosed with the same thing a little over a year ago. I received chemo and radiation. In the beginning of my treatment I only had radiation once a day and the final 2 weeks of treatment I had radiation twice a day. I did not have a feeding tube (something I regretted later) It was really rough when I started getting radiation twice a day. By the last few weeks I was taking OxyContin,& Oxicodone liquid a few times a day to cope with the pain. So, you can probably expect that your dad is going to go through some pain with his treatment. As far as the dry mouth goes, I used Biotene Oral Balance Drymouth Gel to help with my dry mouth (this helped especially at night)
I am not surprised by your father not talking, I was a very outgoing person before my treatment and I've changed quite a bit. My voice is different now and I don't enjoy talking as much as I used to. The treatment your dad is going through is really tough and it will change him. He is lucky to have you there to see him through it. I wish you both the best. Pie123

Posts: 37
Joined: Apr 2008

Hi Cmull,
My best to your Father. Wishing him a speedy recovery. I was stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the right tonsil. I completed my treatment one year to the day on August 16,2008. I had a total of 56 rad. treatments. Two a day for 28 days. I was 59 years young when diagnosed. I will be 61 this week. I was given a daily injection of Amifostine in an IV solution a half hour prior to my first treatment in the morning. I think that the Amifostine helped me significantly with dry mouth and actual protected my saliva glands. There has been some controversy regarding Amifostine but in my case I believe that it was most helpful. I had Cisplatin weekly. I had a feeding tube and injection port installed prior to starting treatment as well as having the offending tonsil removed. I used OTC Mucinex(sp) for excess mucous. About half through my treatments I got really sick and the Docs decided to suspend my treatments for a week. Because of allergic reactions to any of the opiate derivates as well as codeine I was reduced to taking liquid Motrin for pain. I can totally empathize with what your Father is facing. It's a very tough battle but with time he'll be back. I wish you and your Father the very best. Your in my thoughts and prayers.

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