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Joined: Aug 2010

Hi - I'm new here, and looking for help.

My husband had surgery for HPV-related pharyngeal cx in March,2010, followed by a series of radiation & chemo treatments that ended in late June. The removal of his lymph nodes left him with the familiar "turkey neck" appearance. In the past 2 weeks or so, he has begun swelling at night - first in this throat area, then jowls and now also on the back of his neck. This swelling lasts through the rest of the day. At first, it went away a bit during the day, but it now present most of the time. The swelling is hot to the touch and registers as a mild fever when his temperature is taken with an oral thermometer.

Doctors seem to have no suggestions for treatment for or cause of this swelling.

Has anyone heard of this and, if so, could you share with me anything you might know?

Thanks -


RushFan's picture
Posts: 223
Joined: Aug 2010

Hello Ellen,
Welcome to the network, sorry you find yourself here...but this is a great place for information and great people who have experience.

Sounds like your husband might have an infection...just guessing with the "hot to the touch and fever"...I would mention all symptoms to the doctor again...and ask about lymphedema.

I had an appt. week before last with a speech path at MD Anderson regarding my turkey neck. He explained that lymphatic fluid post treatment can collect because it cannot find normal channels to circulate. I have a very mild case (stage 1a). I have mild discomfort, no fever. He offered a follow up appt. to teach me gentle massage techniques to help the fluid "find it's way".

He also mentioned that I really do not have turkey neck, as the term is reserved for more serious cases of lymphedema. He did say if or when the condition becomes more advanced that much more swelling occurs and fever and infection can accompany the problem. The infection is certainly to be avoided.

Finally, he mentioned that the worst swelling is common in the morning since we are laying down at night sleeping (or trying to sleep!) and during our waking hours the swelling is less severe.

Here's a link to a WebBoard post at MD Anderson that you may find helpful.

All the best to you, your husband and all here,

ratface's picture
Posts: 1319
Joined: Aug 2009

Sounds like lymphedema to me and if so will probably persist to some degree forever. yes it's worse in the morning where you drain all night. heavy exercise like lifting weights makes it worse. I still have it a year post radiation and surgery. it's a combination of radiation fibrosis and lymph fluid build up. Massage helps. Rule out infection and then get some lymphedema therapy and then you live with it.

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